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Amy Single Film Study

jclarke | Tuesday September 10, 2019

Categories: A Level, EDUQAS A Level, Analysis, Film Analysis, Films & Case Studies, Directors, Asif Kapadia, Non-Hollywood Films, Amy, Genres & Case Studies, Biography, Documentary, Music

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Section B: Documentary Film (single-film study)

Resource: Analysing a Documentary Film

  • Sisters in Law (Ayisi and Longinotto, Cameroon and UK, 2005)
  • The Arbor (Barnard, UK, 2010)
  • Stories We Tell (Polley, Canada, 2012) live!
  • 20,000 Days on Earth (Forsyth and Pollard, UK, 2014)
  • Amy (Kapadia, UK, 2005)

Context: Amy Winehouse 'Popstar'

There’s an idea that’s elegantly expressed by the novelist Italo Calvino) that’s worth engaging with and returning to quite often in relation to the films that we study at A Level and it’s this: that a classic text is a story that has not yet finished with what it has to say to an audience. The songs of Amy Winehouse might be considered classics of pop music in the way that they revisit an older ‘sound’ and in terms of the resonance of their lyrical content.

Significantly, Amy Winehouse has become a ‘text’ in herself (rather as Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Madonna have done) that continues to be meaning- generating and Asif Kapadia’s film Amy explores this resonance. Of popstars as cultural touchstones, the scholar Richard Dyer has made the point that a pop star (whether a pop music star or a pop-film star) crystallise a range of cultural values and ideological positions. Critically, pop stars in their music come to represent concentrated examples of the very real emotions that we experience in our daily lives. Dyer also notes that stars have to be both different to us and yet the same as us so that they are both somehow aspirational but also sufficiently resonant and ‘familiar’ to us. The comment certainly informs how we can think about i) the film Amy, ii) the performer Amy...

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