Released in 1980, Stardust Memories is one of Allen’s most divisive films. A critical a commercial bomb at the time, it almost derailed his entire career. It is more surreal and colder than anything he’d ever made up to that point. The years have been kinder, with many declaring it one of Allen’s very best.
Our video of the week is Allen talking about that 1980 film.
Amazingly, Allen is very clear about the film being almost all a dream. He blames the negative response to his own inabilities. He also discusses the line “early, funny films”, and how it’s taken on a life of it’s own.
This clip is from Woody Allen: A Life In Film from 2002.
To me, Stardust Memories is Woody’s magnum opus. One can learn more about life in the first four minutes of Stardust Memories than any other artistic work on earth. The moment Woody calls the train conductor over and shows him his ticket to let him know that he’s on the wrong train, and the train conductor ignores his pleas is so indicative of real life. When examining our own lives in relation to others we make observations about everyone else and we think we’re getting screwed with the short end of the stick. The pretty people, the wealthy people, the people that have all the fun, always seem to be on the other train. Like Wood’s character we try to escape the lame train, but feelings of deprivation only add to our panic and frustration, and all while the sands of time are running out. We all end up in the landfill. We all end up in a pine box. Eventually we all get screwed.
Stardust Memories is a hit or miss for me. It’s certainly not like any other Allen films, I will give it that much. I appreciate how personal the film is for Woody. However, I do not like the fact how the film is just a cheap imitation of Fellini’s 8 1/2. It was as if someone else other than Allen directed the film. The copy-cat cinematography and line-delivery is too distracting to enjoy the very important and personal message that Allen is trying to deliver in “Memories”.
All in all, I agree that Stardust Memories is one of the high points of his career.