Celluloid Heroes Summary by Ray Davies

The Kinks were an English rock band formed in Muswell Hill, North London, by brothers Dave Davies and Ray Davies with Pete Quaife in 1963. The band, which rose to fame during the mid-1960s and were part of the British Invasion of the U.S., are renowned as one of the most important and influential rock groups of the era.

Setting of the Poem, Mood:

“Celluloid Heroes” is deeply nostalgic, with that strangely helpless nostalgia of the belated: Davies born 1944 writes largely about stars from before his own time. We are only nostalgic about things we love, or love in spite of ourselves. Two other aspects seem notable. One is the invocation of failure, as in the seeming does-not-compute existence of stars – that’s right, stars – “that you’ve hardly even heard of”: the immortality on offer is, in the end, no immortality at all. If success, as we are reminded, “walks hand in hand with failure,” the Hollywood fantasy provides us, in the end, with only uncertain comfort, and no security at all. But it does not matter at all. The song concludes with an affirmation which seems glorious for all its foolishness: “I wish my life were a non-stop Hollywood movie show …” That, after all, is what all we fans in the dark do wish, and always have.


Celluloid Heroes Summary by Ray Davies

In the first stanza of the poem, the song reminds us of the influence of film stars upon our life and our own fantasies. In every human being there is a tendency to escape from realities and live in a world of imagination. We find solace in dreams. So we can say that, the dreams we see take us into the world of films.

The singer says that we are deeply influenced by films and film stars .The dress, hair style, style of talking, mannerisms, etc. of popular film stars are being the models to many. The author’s references ‘everybody’s a star’, ‘everybody’s in a movie ‘,’there are stars in every city, street and house’ are to establish this influence.

Davies uses the technique of personification of the Walk’s concrete stars to create an intimate connection with the subject matter. The lyric has a warm, melancholy and nostalgic feel, and is driven by three underlying themes. First, “Celluloid Heroes” specifically cites the inhumane and exploitative manner in which the film industry can use its stars. Second, Davies suggests the escapist fantasy world of movies as an attractive respite. “I wish my life were a non-stop Hollywood movie show,” he writes, “because celluloid heroes never feel any pain,” and “never really die.” Finally, Davies treats as metaphor the sometimes ethereal and elusive nature of Hollywood fame and success. “Everybody’s a dreamer, everybody’s a star” is followed by a cautionary note to the listener – those who find success must maintain their guard, because “success walks hand-in-hand with failure along the Hollywood Boulevard

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