Staiger’s analysis of the origins of the American “star system” reveals the variety of angles through which the word “star” can be defined. Stars can be considered as a commodity tool as they represent an extremely successful form of investment. They can also be perceived according to the literal meaning of the word “star”; the character played by a given star forms with the real character of the same star a surreal versus real paradox leading inevitably to an association between the in-text and the in-real-life images of the same star. The third main approach of stardom holds a psychological dimension as it regards the spectatorship, the reasons why stars are often objects of desire have been subject to many analysis, some attribute it to charisma, some to “heavenly bodies”, .. etc.
For a fuller vision of the evolution of the conception of stars, a flashback on the history of cinema has to be done. Various developments in Europe and the United States led to the invention of moving image technology forming the origin of the movie creation. However, it was only in the 1890’s that films were used as an entertainment medium, it was then when this technologic invention transformed into a business. In the nineteenth century, many political and social elements influenced the evolution of film industry. The art of Cinema tended to transform into a capitalist enterprise indeed. In fact, Janet Staiger, in her definition of the system of movie production, supports a Marxist point of view. She tends to consider the latter system as a sub-system initially controlled by patterns of organization of labor, such as scriptwriters, cameramen and women, prop makers in combination with two major factors, technology and capital. In the first decade of the twentieth century, American movie companies withheld the name of film performers fearing that the public recognition would lead these “stars” to ask for higher salaries. In this dissertation, studying the Motion Picture Patents Company is to be used as a proof of the prominence of the role of stars in the evolution of the movie industry.