Film: Fame

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Film:

Fame

Director: Alan Parker
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Warner Home Video

Fame helped to launch the 1980s on a tide of aspiration, creating a successful television series, kick-starting the leg-warmer industry and inspiring us all with the idea that with talent, a lot of hard work, plenty of suffering and luck, anybody might, one day, become a star. Nostalgia inevitably endows Fame with its own golden glow for anyone in the region of 40. And as we drown in the karaoke-by-numbers of today’s cynical television talent shows, its touchingly innocent quality makes for a poignant and telling contrast.

In truth, director…

Reviews

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Fame helped to launch the 1980s on a tide of aspiration, creating a successful television series, kick-starting the leg-warmer industry and inspiring us all with the idea that with talent, a lot of hard work, plenty of suffering and luck, anybody might, one day, become a star. Nostalgia inevitably endows Fame with its own golden glow for anyone in the region of 40. And as we drown in the karaoke-by-numbers of today’s cynical television talent shows, its touchingly innocent quality makes for a poignant and telling contrast.

In truth, director Alan Parker’s film is a collage of the disciplines on offer at New York’s High School of Performing Arts. The characters are sketchy totems for the emotional and domestic conflicts that drive their dreams—Leroy, Doris and friends needed the television spin-off to give them substance—but Parker is brilliant at conveying the intensity and heartache of their collective journey, from the paralysing nerves of the auditions to the strain of maintaining a rounded education alongside the development of performance skills and the ultimate thrill of graduation. By the end, thanks to the familiarity of the thudding disco soundtrack, you really do want them all to “live forever”. —Piers Ford

This early effort by director Alan Parker is lively but jagged as it follows four students through their years in the New York City High School for the Performing Arts. Rather predictably, the kids fall into four clearly defined stereotypes: brazen, gay and hypersensitive, prickly, shy. It makes up for a disjointed presentation with a lot of heart and a great soundtrack (for which it won two Academy Awards). The hopes and disappointments, failures and successes of these teens are fodder for emotional scenes and exuberant dancing in the streets. It also turned out to be the first of many imitators and spawned a popular television series. (It was the breakout film for the short-lived feature film career of Irene Cara, who sang the title song.) —Rochelle O’Gorman

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