Heroes and Heels: Investigating the Star Enactments of Charlton Heston
Limmer, Katherine Anne
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This investigation undertakes to re-centre the figure of the film star and their film appearances in the field of star study. To this end it uses Charlton Heston as its focus in a re-appraisal of existing methods of accounting for the star phenomenon in cinema. It also concomitantly re-assesses existing accounts of the significance of Charlton Heston as a film star. This thesis posits a robust method for identifying the specificities of the star’s contribution to a film’s meanings and effects across the body of their work by drawing on Andrew Britton’s understanding of the ‘star enactment’. Present approaches through which to engage with the details of a star’s performance are considered in detail and the weaknesses of those that seek to impose external schemas onto such discussions are highlighted. The difficulties with approaches that attempt to account for the star as a signifying phenomenon through the concepts of acting and performance are also considered. Existing methods which may allow for a fruitful investigation into the significance of the star enactment, such as the commutation test, are re- formulated in this study and their benefits are demonstrated through their application to key Heston star enactments. These new understandings are also made possible through the application of an ‘ekphrastic’ method of rendering film moments. Previous readings of Heston’s star figure are also re- appraised, and their conclusions questioned, through closer reference to the evidence of details from films. The fruitfulness of this method for analysing and commenting on film is thus demonstrated and Heston’s relationship to genre and its effect on performance style is also considered in order to be able to confidently assert the specific features of the Heston aesthetic.
PhD in English