Star Tribute Videos

The tribute video is a form not only practised by film fans, but also by film scholars. Catherine Grant in particular has elevated this form from mere admiring homage to academic reflection. First and foremost, her tributary videos are audiovisual mourning: an almost instinctive way of coming to terms with the loss of a beloved actor or actress.

 

Grant’s odes to deceased stars, such as the ones for Jeanne MoreauJohn Hurt, or the moving goodbye to Carrie Fischer and Debbie Reynolds, are fascinating in their own right. They are evocative pieces that recapture the attraction of a departed star’s graceful gestures or grating voice.

 

But it is when they are taken as a group that they yield even more insights, as Catherine Grant herself observed. She notes how in most of her star tributes, she was “intuitively drawn to working with the voices of the performers”. These voice recordings were “dead” long before the stars were (in the sense that they are mere mechanical reproductions, that are reinvigorated only during playback). By looking back upon her own output of star tribute videos, and by regarding them as an audiovisual equivalent of automatic writing, Grant arrives at precious insights into equally precious, personal memories, and sheds light on the auditory allure of film stars.