Celluloid Heros – The Kinks

The Oscars took place last night, which calls for a film-themed tune this week.

I’ve chosen this beautiful track by The Kinks, an underrated rock band from North London formed in 1964 who were around  about the same time as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

According to Genius.com, “Celluloid Heroes” examines the difference between Hollywood stereotypes and American reality with descriptive examples of the trials and tribulations of being a Hollywood celebrity on the Walk of Fame. 

You can find this on YouTube with some good photos of LA and the film stars mentioned.

Here are the lyrics:

Celluloid Heros
Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star
And everybody’s in movies, it doesn’t matter who you are
There are stars in every city
In every house and on every street
And if you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Their names are written in concrete

Don’t step on Greta Garbo as you walk down the Boulevard
She looks so weak and fragile that’s why she tried to be so hard
But they turned her into a princess
And they sat her on a throne
But she turned her back on stardom
Because she wanted to be alone

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain

Rudolph Valentino looks very much alive
And he looks up ladies dresses as they sadly pass him by
Avoid stepping on Bela Lugosi
Cause he’s liable to turn and bite
But stand close by Bette Davis
Because hers was such a lonely life

If you covered him with garbage
George Sanders would still have style
And if you stamped on Mickey Rooney
He would still turn round and smile
But please don’t tread on dearest Marilyn
Cause she’s not very tough
She should have been made of iron or steel
But she was only made of flesh and blood

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain

Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star
And everybody’s in show biz, it doesn’t matter who you are
And those who are successful
Be always on your guard
Success walks hand in hand with failure
Along Hollywood Boulevard

I wish my life was non-stop Hollywood movie show
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die

You can see all the stars as you walk along…

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain

La la la la….

Oh, celluloid heroes never feel any pain
Oh, celluloid heroes never really die
I wish my life was non-stop Hollywood movie show
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die

***************

What can you do with it? Well, there’s heaps of vocabulary in here, such as verbs like step on, stamp and tread, some good phrasal verbs like turn your back on, plenty of adjectives, not to mention some history about the film stars featured, leading to general discussion about films and being famous.

As it’s quite a long song, you could give a verse to pairs of students and have them work out its meaning using the internet on their phones/computers then share their findings with the class.

Students could role play journalists interviewing film stars, present their favourite film or actor or look at clips of Oscars speeches and create their own.

For a fun activity to finish, make some Taboo cards using actors and films, or get stronger students to make their own.

Until next time.

 

 

 

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