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[Opinion] Star, Performer, and Clown

Posted February. 23, 2005 22:43,   


Beautiful faces and well-shaped bodies do not guarantee good actors or actresses. The number of hit films or advertisements of famous brands they have shot does not mean that they are stars. Also, not all stars are regarded as true performers. Nowadays, Korea has so many entertainers, but real performers are hard to find in film history; this is sad but true. Furthermore, it is not unusual that we see some of “today’s hottest” singers or comedians who intend to take advantage of their short-term popularity on the screen.

Stars with good looks and ability are valuable commodities. Sometimes, they are even treated as “demi-gods.” Among them are Rudolph Valentino, the sexiest male actor of the silent film era, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich who were even admired as “Muse,” Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean, who died young. At the funeral of Valentino, the mass of saddened female fans went historical. Flowers dedicated to James Dean still continue at his grave even though he died 50 years ago. Films starring them and their private lives have become legends. Actor Bae Yong-jun can be seen as a similar case in Japan.

Performers are not like stars. To them, acting means more than popularity. They chose films they want to act in based on the talent of the director, not the guaranteed money. Good examples are Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro of the United States, and in Korea, we have Choi Min-shik, Song Kang-ho, and Sol Kyung-gu. When performers like them even have the quality of sincerity and service, we call them national performers. Catherine Deneuve of France and Ahn Seong-ki of Korea are like them. Clowns refer to genius performers who go beyond the level of a star or performer, and therefore have their own extremely comic or tragic characters both in works and real lives. The clown of the 20th century in the film history of the world is definitely Charlie Chaplin.

Actress Lee Eun-ju took her own life at the age of 25. She was pure and arrogant as well. She can be romantic and sexy at the same time. With mysterious charms, she was more loved by directors than by the public. This is why our society has shown sincere attention and deeply mourned her death. What made this talented actress, who had the quality of a star but wanted to be a true performer, bungee-jump into the other side of the world in which we live? May she rest in peace.

Oh Myong-chul, Editorial writer, oscar@donga.com