Last year, I took a class as part of my English major requirements that studied films and was called “Stardom and Identity.” It was definitely one of the top classes I took while at Furman and it opened my mind to viewing films at works of literature and of studying stardom as a scholarly subject. We talked about so many topics that I had never thought about in a film context–post structuralism, the Lacanian mirror and apparatus theory, to name just a few. They were incredibly difficult concepts to grasp and we used subjects such as Andy Warhol and his relationship with the camera to offer context for understanding these theories.
Now, I am not throwing out all of these big words and theories just to impress you–my point is that it was a really challenging class but that it made me think about films as being so much more than entertainment on a screen. There are scholars who have devoted their study to these topics and I had never even considering that fact until my senior year at Furman.
So, when I watched “Factory Girl” the other night, many of the things we talked about in this class flooded back to me and it made for a sort of educational experience. The film chronicles the journey of Edie Sedgwick from heiress to star to drug addict to her early death at the age of 28.
Edie leaves college to travel to New York and experience the world. She is dazzling and ebullient and catches the eye of artist, filmmaker, and innovator Andy Warhol. He is entranced by her and begs her to come to his factory and be a subject of his films and his muse.
Warhol’s “Factory” epitomizes the 1960s (at least what I have heard about them anyway) with its boundary-stretching themes and blurred gender lines. There is pornography, nudity, drug use, and any other psychedelic element you could imagine.
Sienna Miller makes a wonderful Edie–charming and sexy but also tragic and flawed. It is hard to say much more about how the movie does at depicting what the Factory was really like because I did not live during its heyday, but I think it is a great introduction to Warhol and his world.
I will offer a disclaimer here: there is a lot of nudity in this film and it is definitely not a movie for everyone. There is difficult subject matter and it was hard to watch at times. However, it was a great movie and I enjoyed learning more about Warhol and this crazy world that I knew so little about.