Barbara Jean Trenton is a faded film star who lives in the past by constantly re-watching her old movies instead of moving on with her life, so her associates try to lure her out of her self-imposed isolation.
The washed up actress Barbara Trenton is a woman stranded in her past, worshiping and watching her movies of twenty-five years ago in her glorious days. Her housemaid Sally is worried with her behavior and she tells to Barbara's friend and agent Danny Weiss that unsuccessfully tries to make Barbara move on with her life, giving a new role in the cinema industry. But Barbara lives in the past and does not accept that she is older now. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Picture of a woman looking at a picture. Movie great of another time, once-brilliant star in a firmament no longer a part of the sky, eclipsed by the movement of earth and time. Barbara Jean Trenton, whose world is a projection room, whose dreams are made out of celluloid. Barbara Jean Trenton, struck down by hit-and-run years and lying on the unhappy pavement, trying desperately to get the license number of fleeting fame.
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I really enjoyed this episode, which was a great surprise given the bad reputation it seems to have acquired. From a pure writing perspective, 'The 16mm shrine' is an absolute treat, with fantastic dialogue and character analysis, typical of Sterling. In particular I really enjoyed the philosophical indulgences of the episode, tackling themes of existence and reality, whilst balancing it with more psychological topics such as denial, pride, and desire. 'The sixteen-millimeter shrine' is an episode about how these ideas based around an unwillingness to accept change can seemingly alienate a person from the rest of the ever-changing world. It is also a fantastic example of cerebral Twilight Zone; one that explores the mind rather than the world outside it. These elements all come together very nicely to create a thought provoking and incredibly interesting 25 minutes.
The episode is not without its faults however, which mainly lay in Lupino and Leisen shoes. Ironically, I felt Lupino was unconvincing throughout, with only a few scenes that could count as memorable. This of course being an absolute shame considering how well Sterling had written her character. Furthermore Leisen didn't seem to know what to do with most of his characters, sometimes having them stand around on set doing next to nothing -which probably explains why accepted the poor performances from Lupino half the time-. Thankfully Balsam does a good job of covering up a lot of weak spots, helping redeem the show from an acting perspective at least.
As I said previously however, if you're a fan of classic film and cerebral science fiction, this shouldn't be as bad as it's sometimes made out to be. In addition to the writing that I mentioned above, the episode also features some fantastic photography (it still amazes me that the show looks this good nearly fifty years later!) and decent enough set-design. Overall 'The sixteen-millimeter shrine" is a great episode and above all is certainly one to make you think.
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