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'A Star is Born' in Lady Gaga

Jochen Kürten ct
October 4, 2018

A singer is discovered just as another faces the end of his career: it's not new material. Still the third remake of "A Star is Born" offers great cinema and reveals Lady Gaga's powerful acting talent.

Filmstill A Star Is Born 2018
Image: picture alliance/Warner Bros. Entertainment/dpa

Hollywood: The land of dreams. Here, careers can really take off. Actors ascend like comets, soaring to unimaginable heights. But the reverse is equally possible: Bottomless descent, when the emotions are even more intense.

It's similar in the music industry where global audiences looking to be entertained experience a few happy ascents and a lot of deeply sad descents every few years.

The ups and downs of show business

A Star is Born links these two worlds of film and music on the big screen.

It is an eternal story about the intoxicating feelings of a meteoric rise and the dismays of a fall. Based on classic Hollywood material from the 1930s, A Star is Born has been remade a couple of times already, featuring in each new version, of course, the stars of the time. This time, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are in the spotlight.

When A Star is Born recently celebrated its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, there was a lot of commotion as pop icon Lady Gaga traveled by water taxi to the Lido. Fans screeched and the film world stared on a bit jealous; the not-so-sober atmosphere in time-honored Venice was disrupted by a musician stealing the show from all the filmmakers.

Lady Gaga cheered at the Lido

She certainly deserved the shower of affection, although the many fans and onlookers could not have known just how much when they welcomed her.

The world premiere of the film by Bradley Cooper, who had not only been in the director's seat for the first time but also took on the male lead, later flickered across the big screen of the festival cinema. That's when everyone realized: Here is an actress to be discovered. Lady Gaga had done a fantastic job.

Read more: Venice film festival slammed for 'toxic masculinity' 

Filmstill A Star Is Born
Much of the film's success relies on the co-stars' chemistryImage: 2018 Warner Bros. Ent./MGM Pictures Inc.

The story that Cooper tells in his debut differs only slightly from the stories of the earlier versions of the film that was first made in 1937 and remade in 1976 as a rock musical

Cooper plays successful country singer Jackson Maine, who fills the large music arenas and has audiences at his feet. Yet he suspects that everything is finite — especially because he has a big problem he carries with him. Alcohol. Jackson drowns his loneliness and the emptiness he feels at the center of the entertainment business in liquor.

A Cinderella story: The eternal rags-to-riches

One day, Jackson discovers a singer on stage in a small club. She is actually a waiter who dares every now and then to sing a few songs in front of the audience. Jackson Maine is excited. He recognizes the tremendous talent of this reserved girl. And not only that: He falls in love with her. The love is reciprocated.

Of course, A Star is Born is not only about pure happiness. It is rather the story of two artists with artistic temperaments whose careers intersect. One enters the stage just as the other is leaving.

It is at this very juncture that the two get to know each other. What follows is a story Hollywood has already told several times. Beginning in the early 1930s, when films with sound were just beginning to appear. At that time, there was still a focus on acting; the film was titled What Price Hollywood?

Filmstill A Star is Born 1937
Janet Gaynor, Fredric March and Adolphe Menjou: The original "A Star is Born" from 1937 was the story of two actorsImage: picture-alliance/akg-images

Five years later, directors William A. Wellmann and Jack Conway staged the story for the first time under the title A Star is Born with Janet Gaynor and Frederic March. That worked splendidly — at the box office and with critics, as it took home seven Oscar nominations. (Wellmann then won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.)

Judy Garland wrote film history with A Star is Born

A 1954 version of A Star is Born, directed by George Cukor, became a big hit, especially because the pairing of Judy Garland and James Mason harmonized so splendidly. Again the movie was showered with Oscar nominations. At the ceremony, the film went out empty-handed then as favorite Garland was beaten out by Grace Kelly. That did not detract from the film's long-standing fame.

Again two decades later, the material was re-made. Although the 1976 take on A Star is Born, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson was prominently featured and could have won an Oscar for Best Song, experts agreed that the 1950s film was far better.

Filmstiil "A Star is Born" Judy Garland, 1954
Judy Garland in "A Star is Born," 1954Image: picture-alliance/Courtesy Everett Collection

Cooper does his job well, Lady Gaga better

The latest version of the movie features the Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper duo.

After its premiere at the Lido, reviews were generally positive. As an actor, Cooper was certified as a singing talent, while for his directorial work, he was reproached for putting his own role a bit poorly in the foreground. But Lady Gaga was a discovery. Her first movie lead was hailed triumphantly. Praise from which the film can probably profit.

As the chemistry between the two main actors was considered to be consistent, nothing seems to be standing in the way of the success of this fourth (original) version of A Star is Born at the box office.

After further festival invitations in Canada, Russia and Switzerland, A Star is Born debuts in Germany on October 4, and on October 5 in the US. An Oscar favorite, there are already bets that there will be at least one nomination for Lady Gaga. A star is, indeed, born.