7.9/10
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40 user 34 critic

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988)

Not Rated | | Short, Biography, Drama | 30 April 1988 (USA)
Karen Carpenter's battle with anorexia nervosa and the cultural influence of the Carpenters in the 70s.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Merrill Gruver ...
Karen (voice)
...
Richard (voice)
Melissa Brown ...
Mother (voice)
...
Dad / Mr. A&M (voice)
Nannie Doyle ...
Cherry Boone (voice)
Cynthia Schneider ...
Dionne Warwick (voice)
Larry Kole ...
Announcer (voice)
Gwen Kraus ...
Narrator (voice)
Bruce Tuthill ...
Narrator (voice)
Joanne Barnett ...
Herself - Singer
...
(voice)
Moira McCarty ...
(voice)
Laurie Stone ...
(voice)
Michelle Manenti ...
(voice)
Celia Pearce ...
(voice)
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Storyline

Karen and Richard Carpenter are young musicians living with their parents in Downey, California. Richard shows great promise as a songwriter and Karen, who plays drums, begins to sing vocals, thrusting the duo into stardom. They become wildly successful, Karen's striking voice and Richard's soft melodies capturing the essence of the nation's yearning for calm after the turbulent Sixties. But Karen strives for perfection and becomes increasingly fearful of her weight, despite being a slender woman. Eventually she is diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, a mental disease relating to stress, lack of control, and low self-esteem. A fight for Karen's life ensues. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

30 April 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Суперзвезда: История Карен Карпентер  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Todd Haynes made Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story while he was completing his MFA at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. See more »

Goofs

In the opening sequence, as the camera rounds the corner on its way into Karen's bedroom, a crew member is visible at the end of the hallway. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: The year is 1970, and suddenly the nation finds itself asking the question: what if instead of the riots and assassinations, the protests and the drugs, instead of the angry words and hard rock sounds, we were to hear something soft and smooth, and see something of wholesomeness and easy handed faith? This was the year that put the song onto the charts that made the Carpenters a household word.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Velvet Goldmine (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

We've Only Just Begun
Written by Roger Nichols and Paul Williams
Performed by The Carpenters
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A great, if currently illegal, short film.
19 September 1998 | by See all my reviews

A marvelous film made by Todd Haynes, a Brown University student at the time, later the director of "Poison" and the brilliant, hypnotic "Safe" (1995), "Superstar" details the rise and fall of Karen Carpenter entirely through an inspired formal devise: Carpenter, her brother Richard, family, and friends are all "portrayed" by Barbie dolls. The film is not merely about fame or anorexia (the disease of which Carpenter died), but conjures the suburban California of the 1970's, indeed the whole plastic experience of America and American pop culture (of which, of course, The Carpenters and Barbie dolls are most certainly a part). The sincere lite-rock of The Carpenters is juxtaposed with the emptiness and powerful sorrow of these "people"; the film isn't merely a satire--it's deeply touching in a way that many "human stories" fail to be. Upon its appearance, the film became a minor cause celebre in hip, arty New York circles; unfortunately, when Richard Carpenter, proprietor of The Carpenters' music (who doesn't exactly come across as a hero in the film), got wind of it, he called his lawyers. The fact of the matter is that Haynes and his producers never cleared the use of the music--the film was never intended to be shown for profit. Simply, though, there is no film without the music. The still-standing cease-and-desist order prevents the film from being distributed in any form; I saw a third- or fourth-generation copy on video, and it was still better than virtually anything I saw that year. "Superstar" is worth seeking out; it's genuinely (and I rarely use this word) inspiring.


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