A great film should evoke more than one emotion. Through out history, filmmakers have shed light on the human experience by projecting everyday feelings and interactions on screen. When comparing the two films, “Stardust Memories” and “The Kid”, there is a certain similarity in their underlying message, being as though an act of humility can go a long way. However, the preferred readings of the two differ quite much. The preferred readings in “Stardust Memories” are simple.
The movie primarily portrays a famous director that travels to an illustrious film conference of some sort and is being praised for his work and achievements in the film industry. He undergoes a series of interviews and sporadic encounters with his fans while he is troubled by his ongoing and newly discovered love interest. “The Kid” tells a slightly different story. Charlie Chapman plays a poverty stricken middle-aged man who finds an abandoned new born on the streets and after initially trying to get rid of it, he decides to nurture and raise the child himself.
On the surface, these movies may not be appealing to certain audiences. However, the sub-textual readings are much more intriguing. “Stardust Memories” has a number of underlying messages translated through out the film. The story itself has different parallel story arcs. One on side, it depicts an artist feeling that his work is overshadowed by his fame and the limited minds of his audience. While he strives to create “true” art, he is expected to continue to create empty, meaningless comedy films. It speaks about how art in turn gets affected due to popular opinion.
On the other side, it takes us through the life of a lonely man who’s desperately in search of his meaning and purpose. He looks to love for an understanding of life and undergoes an internal battle with his personal desires. In short, I feel like the story as a whole speaks about human attraction in general and how destructive and naive we are. The Kid has a slightly different tone. Although the story is primarily based on Chapman raising an orphan child, there is an ongoing religious undertone coming from a strong moral standpoint.
Being kind to people, no matter their social class, seems to be the subtext through out the film. Over time, movies can be perceived in a different light from its original viewers. Times change, technology increases, and society evolves in general. The film Stardust Memories in its original release (1980) could have been perceived as a failure being as though Allen’s success up until then had derived from his comedy and more lighthearted films. In the present day, it has become an essential part of Woody Allen’s work and will be used as a film that captures a certain turning point of his career.
Being as though technology has advanced so much, it’s an obvious difference in how someone today would view “The Kid”. Black and white films are now appreciated, as classic cinema while as back then it was just the standard. Film was still considered new and certain issues were still taboo which is why the religious standpoint had to be masked in such a way. If one were to categorize the two films, I think Stardust Memories could be considered a narrative film with a tone of aesthetic realism while The Kid would be considered a formalistic narrative film.