BMW Series: Star
Directed by Guy Richie, USA , 2002, 9 minutes
Star is one of the eight short films that composed the ad campaign called The Hire by BMW (USA) in 2002 (more about this later). The film tells the story of a manager who has decided to get revenge on his employer, the Superstar (played by Madonna), for treating him badly. The manager has hired a driver (played by Clive Owen) for the Superstar to be driven to the venue that she has scheduled for that particular day. Star does fall for the trap that the manager has placed; Madonna (thinking that Clive Owen is one of her many drivers) asks the driver to lose the car carrying her manager and body guards. To this order, Clive Owen shows off all the features and capabilities of the M5 (the BMW model used in this particular film) The result of his driving skills allows for them to not only loose the car carrying the body guards, to get to the venue on time, but also to carry out the manager’s revenge plan due to the fact that Star has pissed herself during Clive Owen’s driving. In the end the paparazzi have a field day.
Star appears in the first season of BMW short film series called the Hire. The collection of eight shorts was distributed via internet only (on the BMW website) starting with John Frankenheimer's Ambush and continued with the rest of the series including Star in 2001-2002. These “commercial vignettes” were so highly praised by Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, the New York Times and especially the viewers, that the films ended up in a DVD distributed at only certain dealerships. Unfortunately, BWM had to pull the plug on the DVD since the actor Forrest Whitaker disputed that the films had been made for internet view only as stated in his contract. However, the demand for the films was so great that BMW decided to release another DVD which gave viewers the links to go see the films online and even released a second season. (If you would like to read more about this campaign please visit these websites http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Content/Uniquely/TVAndNewMedia/BMWFilms.aspx
The Hire is a campaign with a groundbreaking style of advertising: the creation of short films that does not mention the brand name. In the case of Star, the car stands out by itself in the parking, and the car becomes the catalyst for the plot, but bold letters indicating BMW: the Ultimate Driving Machine never show up on the screen. The same can be said of Madonna. The film doesn’t introduce her in the credits in the same way that Clive Owen is introduced. The point that I’m getting at is that this particular campaign (and especially this short) plays around with the idea of star driven power. What makes a star a star? Is it performance? Is it quality? All these questions can be answered for both the car and Madonna. And as a result of this play on perceptions/ meaning of words such as star, I believe that this short fits this category of short with stars very well.
The ironic factor of the film being directed by Madonna’s husband Guy Ritchie is one of the reasons why I like this short a lot. The other reasons are Clive Owen and the punchy story line. The main punch is delivered at the end when the audience’s curiosity is answered as to how the manager got his revenge. However, there are other miny punches throughout the whole film that make it highly entertaining; the music adds to the viewer enjoying the ride, Owen’s changes in tone of voice and facial expression allow for the flow of the narrative to continue and finally the way that Madonna ends up being a pinball in the car enhance this simple story of revenge.
Finally, the film allows through its punchy story to not only have the manager get his revenge but it also brings a reality check for the star. It is as if she crash landed (literally) back into being a human. This is because the technique, in which star is portrayed, of having the narrator saying something like “her million dollar voice” and having the star cough, would not have been as effective in a short story for example. The film in this way makes what the narrator is saying of the star having blue eyes and strong hands and not being able to see them makes star as if she were something that humans (as the viewers) are not able to see. That is, not until she lands abruptly at the venue. Once she has been put in a position where star shows that she is human, then the ride is over.
I have seen most of the short films in the BMW series and personally believe that I enjoy this one the most because as a viewer you can take the ride over and over and it will always be really good. It’s like a Pixar short film but just with a really nice car and a really hot driver.