Melodrama & Romance, LUC

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  • 1. ROMANCE & MELODRAMA--the womans film, chick flick, weepie, girlie film

2. CONNOTATIONSWhat comes to mind when you hear the word melodrama? 3. CONNOTATIONS What comes to mind when you hear the word melodrama? Emotional? 4. CONNOTATIONS What comes to mind when you hear the word melodrama? Emotional? Excessive? 5. CONNOTATIONS What comes to mind when you hear the word melodrama? Emotional? Excessive? Loud sound score? 6. CONNOTATIONS What comes to mind when you hear the word melodrama? Emotional? Excessive? Loud sound score? Lots of drama in interior spaces? 7. CONNOTATIONS What comes to mind when you hear the word melodrama? Emotional? Excessive? Loud sound score? Lots of drama in interior spaces? Exterior challenges? 8. CONNOTATIONS What comes to mind when you hear the word melodrama? Emotional? Excessive? Loud sound score? Lots of drama in interior spaces? Exterior challenges? Death, desire, illness, romance, dancing? 9. CONNOTATIONS What comes to mind when you hear the word melodrama? Emotional? Excessive? Loud sound score? Lots of drama in interior spaces? Exterior challenges? Death, desire, illness, romance, dancing? Women, children have more central roles? 10. DEFINITIONSMelodrama evolved from the Greek word melos (music) and drama (often meaning tragedy).Northrup Frye describes the triumph of moral virtue over villainy, and the consequentidealizing of the moral views assumed to be held by the audience. (He also connectedthese emotions to potential propaganda.)Peter Brooks in his classic The Melodramatic Imagination, also reflects on the power ofmelodrama in societythe socialization of the deeply personal. He saw melodrama assimilar to nightmares, where the good loses out to the evil. The end of the nightmare isan awakening brought about by confrontation and expulsion of the villain, the person inwhom evil is seen to be concentrated, and a reaffirmation of decent people. Heroes arecentral. So is justice.Melodrama is connected to popular appeal and condemned by critics as being sentimental,naive and sensational. 11. WAY DOWN EAST, D.W. GRIFFITH (1920)STARRING LILLIAN GISH Way Down East, ice floes 12. IMPORTANT DIRECTORS, ACTRESSES & ACTORS 1920s D.W. Griffith Lillian Gish 1930s George Cukor 1940s Max Ophuls, Howard Hawks Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Vivian Leigh, Katherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunn 1950s Douglas Sirk, Alfred Hitchcock Ingrid Bergman, Rock Hudson, Jimmy Stewart, Lauren Bacall 13. MOLLY HASKELLWomans Film Themes:Sacrificeherself for love, children, career, etc..Afflictionburden of some sort to overcomeChoicewhich partner is the best choice?Competitionother women to fight off"The domestic and the romantic are entwined, one redeeming the other, in thetheme of self-sacrifice, which is the mainstay and oceanic force, high tide andlow ebb, of the womans film Molly Haskell, 157. 14. SIGNS OF MELODRAMA--A MODE, NOT A GENRE?The persistence of the melodrama might indicate the ways in which popularculture hasresolutely refused to understand social change in other thanprivate contexts and emotional terms. Thomas ElsaesserRoots in:1. Medieval morality playemphasis on actions, not psychology2. Post-revolution French romantic dramaemphasis on interior moral decisions for actions 15. CONTRADICTIONS=MORAL OCCULT Society vs. Individual Sacred/mythic world order vs. real, bourgeois world____________________Melodrama emerges to compensate for drop in the credibility ofallegorical/tragic myths and organized religiononly moral occult remains.(E.g. horror genre, American Horror Story, Twilight, etc) 16. THE STARBy 20th century, moral value resides in the individualpersonalitythe starWhere did the community go?!Melodramas exteriorize internal conflictnarratives ofclarificationWho am I?!Character is revealed/transformed, internal truths emerge 17. COMING OF AGE MELODRAMAS JANE EYRE/TWILIGHT STORY ELEMENTS Presentation of virtue/innocence Obstacle or introduction of menace/monster Virtue challenged (in private, domestic spaces; reading books) Evil men, bad womenVampyrssubdued or killed by end Secretsother women, not human, etcare revealed/clarifiedin excessive waysI am unconditionally & irrevocably in lovewith him 18. SIGNS OF COMEDYALTERNATIVES TO SUFFERING?!THE PHILADELPHIA STORYWomens Lives are Narrated by: Story within the Story (Parental marriage) Romantic Comedy & comic unruliness (Hepburn, Grant) Exclusion from (masculine, heroic) tragedies (Grants drinking) Drive towards Utopianwedding, renewal, rebirth (she madethe right choice and healed the family in the process, right?wink, wink.) 19. TRANSGRESSIVE WOMENwhereas melodrama allows the transgressive woman totriumph only in her suffering, romantic comedy takes her story toa different end, providing a sympathetic place for femaleresistance to masculine authority and an alternative to thesuffering femininity affirmed by melodrama. Kathleen Rowe Karlyn 20. ANTI-AUTHORITARIAN ENERGY, UTOPIA AND COMMUNITYComedy celebrates excess not only for itself but because it pavesthe way for a community liberated from structures grown so rigidand unyielding that they threaten its very existence.Romantic comedy treats the social difference that impedescommunity as a matter of sexual difference, and so it builds thefeminine into both the construction and the resolution ofnarrative conflictThe utopian possibilities of a new social order lie in the couplesvictory over the obstacles between them, and in the child or newlife implicit in their union. 21. OEDIPAL DILEMMASABDICATING MOTHERSIf a heroine refuses to resolve her Oedipal passage withher mother & the narrative leaves the mother/daughterrelationship in tactthenthat generally meansunder patriarchythat themother/daughter relationship will fall apart in order tomake a (hetero) relationship happen in the story. 22. TORTURE THE WOMEN!Body GenresWeeping in melodrama/womens filmsViolence & terror in horror filmsEcstasy in pornWilliams: There is value in thinking about the form,function and system of seemingly gratuitous excessesin horror, porn and melodrama 23. WE ARE ALL PERVERTS.Psychoanalysis has emphasized perversions of thefilm gaze:Fetishes (Guns, Shoes, Excessive make-up)Voyeurism (Watching in the dark)Sadism/Masochism (Watching others suffer pain; identifyingwith the suffering)DONT WE OSCILLATE BETWEEN VIEWS?