By Kevin Carr | December 9, 2003

“Fallen Star” opens up with the following quote: “Through an emotional dance drama, experience one man’s self-destructive choice of addiction…”
Uh oh.
“Fallen Star” is a dance narrative which bridges the gap between watching dance in a theater and watching a film on videotape. This is a challenge to begin with because dance can be so conceptual and film is often very literal. The attempt to tell an actual story in this motion picture got in the way of the dance and vice versa.
The film loses the sense of narration about half-way through the picture, and the representation of the dancers is not terribly clear. Some things just don’t come across through film as well as they do on stage.
I have to admit, I was lost with the story. I believe it was about a couple breaking up. One of them may have had AIDS. Death made an appearance at several points as a sexy feline dancer. However, the saving grace on this note is that dance isn’t necessarily enjoyed for its story.
There are several moments of technical brilliance, but those are in the more subtle effects. One of the dangerous temptations of a filmmaker (especially one just starting) is to use the special effect technology because it’s there. The minimal effects are pretty cool in this piece – especially with it coincides with something more tangible like the make-up on Death (Billings). However, at times the effects go overboard and detract from the dance rather than add to it.
With a little more attention to a story – or at least a little more attention to translating the story and its symbols for video – this could be a much more interesting piece.
A frustration I had in several scenes was the choice to not use the camera and make it a dancer itself. A sequence in an apartment uses two very basic wide angles (a standard angle and its reverse) when even a modicum of camera movement could have added visually and emotionally to the piece.
Overall, “Fallen Star” is an excellent translation of dance to screen compared to much of what you will find out there. Dance cannot just be taped from the back of the room. If you’re going to use video to enhance a dance performance, the camera must become part of the dance. Billings achieves this to a degree and much more proficiently than other taped performances I’ve seen.

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