Wk1M2 Melodrama

Hello Everyone! For the next few days we will be discussing melodrama.

Discussion will take place here in the blog. You can respond to my post and directly to each other’s comments.

The films for this section include (all sound on SIU Online):

The Land Beyond Sunset by Dorothy Shore, 1912

Where are my Children, Written and Produced by Lois Weber, 1916

The Cheat, Cecil B. Demille, 1915

Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes, 2002

In this sampling of melodrama how does race or class function? Discuss the ways in which emotion functions? How does the mise-en-scene contribute to the heightened emotion? Does it work to draw you in? Does the gender of the writer/director influence the tenor of the film?  What more recent melodramas have you seen? How do they compare to these films?

 

 

32 thoughts on “Wk1M2 Melodrama

  1. Jennifer Machura

    I’d like to write a bit about The Land Beyond the Sunset. I enjoyed this film out of all of them because the story is a classic one we’re all familiar with (it actually reminded me of the move Annie). I think that the issue of class is at the heart of this film. At the beginning, we are introduced to the young boy by watching him unsuccessfully try and sell newspapers. His clothes are torn and tattered, and that right there is the first indicator that he’s poor. The better-dressed adults passing him on the street either ignore him or act like he’s a bother. The only adult who stops and gives the boy something is a woman, and that’s because her daughter insists she do it. This scene in the film reminded me of something I read in the book about kids in melodramas, and how they are more emotionally in-tune with the emotions and troubles of others.
    As the film progresses, class is explored more. The boy’s situation at home is horrible, and there seems to be no way of escaping it. Even the picnic that he goes on can’t erase the thoughts of his abusive home life. At the picnic, right before everyone gets up to leave for the day, he sits and stares out into nothingness as images of the abuse he goes through at home are played above his head. I think that, while showing what a person is thinking right above their heads may seem a little over-the-top, it was necessary for this film. Not only did it help the audience know what the boy was thinking, but it also added to the drama of the story. By seeing what he endures at home, our feeling of security during the picnic scene is shaken and we are reminded that he still has a bad home to go to.
    The mise-en-scene is important to this melodrama, particularly the setting of the boy’s home and how it compares to the picnic area. The boy lives in squalor, sleeping on a floor, surrounded by furniture that is falling apart and cracked walls. The house and its contents really emphasize the fact that he lives in poverty and the fact that he has a drunk mother who doesn’t take care of him makes the situation even more desperate (after all, if she can’t raise him, how will he be able to rise above poverty?). In contrast, the picnic and fantasy scenes are ones of nature, purity, and harmony. The young boy is surrounded by trees and a lake, and everyone is getting along. This drastic change in scenery, from the crowded city and the house that’s falling apart to the natural setting, accentuates how awful his life with his mother is as opposed to how wonderful and tranquil the life in the natural setting is.

    1. Parrish Colbert

      I totally agree with Jennifer Machura’s observation, of how no matter what the boy did it couldn’t take his mind off of what he knew he’d eventually have to go back to. When he’s at home he sleeps on the floor and all the money that he makes gets taken from his mother, who not even for a moment shows any kind of affection towards him. What I felt the strongest throughout this entire film was the feeling of a death-like entrapment. The fact that he would rather float without a scrap of food towards a place he didn’t even know was real or not really says a lot toward him and his mother’s relationship. But along with Anny, this film kind of reminded me of François Truffaut’s 1951 film, The 400 Blows. What instantly struck the correlation with the film is the end scene, where the boy was walking trying to escape his life behind him looking for any kind of outlet on the beach in tattered clothes. Maybe director François Truffaut had The Land Beyond in mind.

  2. Renee Schuyten

    Watching The Cheat, I found myself trying to guess who the cheat was going to be! Will the husband cheat on an investment, the wife on her husband? Is it the copper investor, the King? I was quite entertained at the unfolding of a story where who would cheat, and what kind of cheating would that be was changing throughout. The motivations of the characters kept me guessing (and thus my emotions guessing). Edith began as selfish and not seeming too faithful, but evolved (a little late!) into a woman who loved her husband and wanted to do the right thing. In the beginning, I thought the King was motivated by a love for Edith, but was in the end a need for control and power over those beneath him. I thought it was interesting how Richard was willing to go to trial for murder rather than have his wife’s reputation besmirched- so strong were the social strictures placed on women of the ‘smart set’, and so strong his love. In the end, the most shocking thing to me was the near lynching in the court room which instantly trumped any social class standards when one of their own [race] was threatened! It drew me very quickly into what the mindset was in this country at the beginning of WWI – peeking across an ocean at a fight we hadn’t joined yet.

  3. Andrew Wire

    The Cheat revolves around an upper-class marriage that is threatened by the actions of a petty wife and (but especially) her non-white suitor. The whites are at worst dense, naive or just plain foolish. The villain is a positively nefarious Asian man who lusts after the white female protagonist. It is my understanding that during this era in cinema, any possible romantic pairing of a white and nonwhite will invariably spell disaster for both parties, placing the nonwhite duly at fault. So it goes.
    Where Are My Children? is heavy-handed, but it seems like it is possibly an earnest attempt to tackle the problematic topics of birth-control and abortion. The plot revolves around a middle class (or upper-middle?) couple, where the wife is responsible for so much depravity as to render their marriage tragic. The external villain appropriately dons a goatee.
    Racism and sexism aside for a moment, these two films follow typical melodramatic plot patterns involving “the disruption or disturbance of an idealized emotional paradise by some external force or act of villainy” (Belton 127). The home is rendered chaotic by the wife (but perhaps more so by the external villain) and resolution comes only after the husband and wife are able to pick up the pieces of their marriage after it had been shattered by tragic events.
    The Cheat contains a happy ending for its couple when they are vindicated after a ridiculous trial. Where Are My Children? ends with a sequence where the couple is old and childress and lonely. Their non-existent children show up as adult apparitions. It’s freaking sad, but is a good example of early cinematic technique.
    In fact, all three of the silent films here in this module feature visual superimpositions in certain scenes in order to drive home the emotional impact of their stories. It worked to draw me in. At other times, a major character is presented as a body against a black background. In the beginning of The Land Beyond the Sunset, it highlights the loneliness and seclusion of the main protagonist boy.
    The Land Beyond the Sunset and Where Are My Children? where directed by women. Now, I don’t know that I can declare with confidence that the characteristics of these films (and how these characteristics contrast with male directors of the silent era) are a direct result of their directors being women. The Cheat (Cecile B. DeMille) contains physical violence and a gunshot, and the other two films do not. I’ll submit that much for now.

    1. Michele Post author

      The Cheat is actually directed by a male and is in line with female centered melodrama in Hollywood, where basically the film plays out what could happen should the wife stray too far from home.

  4. Alexandra Freda

    Melodrama has a tendency to often reflect and discuss social issues and class issues, working on an emotional and affective level, often creating its own sign language to communicate the drama and plot involved in the movies storyline. The melodrama in films like Where are my children, Far From Heaven, The Land Beyond Sunset, and the Cheat, all exemplify to one degree or another this concept of melodrama in classic film. Where the earlier films all demonstrate the silent potential and mis-en-scene, evoking a greater affectiveness by implementing tableaus, underscoring important events by holding revealing positions or expressions to communicate to the audience the importance or drama of the particular moment. In The Land Beyond Sunset this is exemplified by the dramatic and theatrical performances and expressions of the actors, particularly the mother and the little boy shine as far as in their expressive and dynamic performances. The mother is clearly a figure of disdain and conflict for the ever hopeful and dreaming little boy, evoking a sense of discomfort and dislike towards the mother and concern or sympathy, longing for a better future for the boy. In Far From Heaven, a contemporary American film, the idea of the melodrama is ever present even though it is not a silent film. The expressions, acting, lingering long moments and pauses to communicate importance of a specific moment or event within the film, and the overall look, feel, and performance of the actors alludes to this classic idea of the melodrama. The mis-en-scene of Far From Heaven certainly reflects the era and time period they were trying to re-create, and the settings, costumes, and powerful performances of the actors help to set the ground for the bittersweet and heart wrenching plot details. A gay man (Frank – Dennis Quaid) found in the arms of his lovers devastates his wife (Cathy – Julianne Moore) who in turn falls in love with a black man (Raymond – Dennis Haysbert) in 1957 Connecticut. The ultimate melodrama and tragedy of the film being after the wifes longing to save their marriage and seeing her idyllic world fall apart, she reaches out to Raymond, only to be rejected because of an attack on his daughter. He says he’s learned his lesson about mixing the two worlds, and the melodrama leaves Cathy and the viewers with an uncertainty that haunts one after viewing the film with many unanswered questions.

    I would compare the films we watched for this particular module in the category of melodrama to films such as Imitation of Life, the 1927 and 1959 versions of the film which deal with issues of class and race. Also There Will Be Blood as a more contemporary example. In our text they break down the classification of the melodrama into many such as domestic, rural, Western, romantic, mystery, etc melodramas. With this distinction one could certainly determine that films like The Godfather, Little Women, American Beauty, and other films could classify potentially as melodramas. Compared to the films we watched in this module I would certainly say that in There Will Be Blood and many of the other films mentioned, but specifically in Daniel Day Lewis’s performance I would say that his expressive quality, dramatic facial expressions and over the top performance (Give me the blood lord scene, the very ending in the bowling alley) certainly contribute to the affective quality of the film. His performance literally draws a visceral and physical reaction from me every time I watch the film, which I would say would be the main goal of almost every melodrama, silent or otherwise.

    1. Michele Post author

      We will actually be watching some other non-female centered melodrama a bit later, it might be interesting to compare the way they function (as you did for There Will Be Blood) in relation to this weeks films.

  5. Nicholas Mertens

    The film Where are my Children? Is an interesting melodrama that takes on the highly controversial issue of abortion. Abortion has always been something to raise some eyebrows when being shown on film and discussed in the public forum, but especially in 1916 when it was entirely taboo and illegal in most States, no matter the situation. With this in mind the film portrays abortion in a way that takes much more of a neutral tone and was sensitive to both the purpose and consequences of abortion.
    Class plays an important role in this melodrama, at first it seems that abortion is being advocated for the lower class because they don’t know how to control their bodies or their children. The film deals with the “souls’” of the aborted children in an interesting way as to bring Christianity into the issue. The film claims that there is an army of children who are chosen to be born and when a pregnancy is aborted the child is simply sent back to heaven to be chosen at another time. This view seemed to be the least controversial addressing the popular Christian views of the time that held sway over the censorship and decency boards.
    Society standing also plays into the narrative in the fact that the women who are getting the abortions are not the for the most part women of a lower class but predominantly women of the upper class. These women are portrayed as getting the abortions not because it could be harmful to their bodies, or the child might be at risk in the home, but because they are socially active individuals and don’t want to miss out on going to parties.
    I believe that the gender of the writer and director certainly does influence this piece. If not for coming from a female perspective of the time the film might have taken a much more anti abortion stance. The fact that Lois Weber was a supporter of Margaret Sanger, weighs heavily on the film in that she makes the Dr. Herman Malfit, a character who sees his abortion work as doing something good for the community, and that he is a decent man, in one scene in particular trying to break apart a domestic dispute. But the fact that the director and writer was Lois Weber also comes across as she can much more accurately bring to life different female characters on film. From Mrs. Walton being an actives socialite who spends her time with friends or going to the abortion clinic. To the naïve young maid’s daughter who is seduced, impregnated and goes to the abortion clinic but due to complications dies. Along with the other side characters the film focuses a great deal of time on women which is something remarkable for 1916 and that these roles for the most part are not stereotypes.
    Though the film was greatly influence by Weber’s opinions and beliefs she could not entirely make a film that was for abortion in 1916, and have in shown to the public. She took a much more middle ground that showed the effectiveness of birth control, but also exaggerated turmoil because of the abortions. The main reasons that this film seems to have gotten by most of the censorship bored was because the fact that Dr. Malfit is convicted for his work, but more importantly Mrs. Walton regrets her decision to get abortions. In the end it is unclear whether because of complications with her procedures she is unable to have children, or because of the abortions she is mentally no longer in a state ready to be a mother. Either way though the film leaves the audience with a feeling that abortion is sinful and greedy.

    1. Renee Schuyten

      I thought Lois Weber used irony in her film to show the difference in classes in Where are My Children. The first doctor (not Malfit) is the one visiting slums, seeing children die because their parents can’t feed them, and is found guilty in court for distributing information on birth control (contraceptive not abortion). She then contrasts that with the upper class, who easily visit a nice clean doctor with a nice nurse and private office – using abortion as an after the fact birth control. I don’t know if Weber was calling out anything as right or wrong, so much as using over the top emotion to provoke the audience to do their own thinking on what is the more moral choice.

    2. Michele Post author

      Lois Weber was very concerned with issues that affected modern women, and yes she was confined by the strictures of the day, but she used melodrama as a way of being provocative.

  6. Clark Faust

    Immediately when I started watching The Cheat, I could see the emphasis on the power of race and class. The Japanese suitor of Edith is evil, but more interesting, he is non-white. The film was made in a time before the civil rights movement, so segregation and racism were present. The film came out the same year as D.W. Griffith’s racist saga The Birth of a Nation (1915) was released. Both films create non-white antagonists for white protagonists to overcome, thus showing that white race is superior. This sort of behavior seems ridiculous to audiences now as America enters the so called “Post-Racism” era of our history after the Obama election, but this was a very common plot line at the time these films were released. I find it very interesting that these films use the tensions created by race to fuel the drama of a film. Other more contemporary films use race relations to show that the races can work together, i.e. Remember the Titans (Boaz Yakin 2000), but The Cheat and Birth of a Nation use race relations to pull people apart and set one race as superior.

    1. Nicholas Mertens

      I agree with your sentiment about race being a tool to highlight drama, both using it as a dividing force and a uniting force. I can also see race-drama as an excuse to make a movie that has already been been done before. For example in films like the “Blind Side” where race-drama is more of a cop out for an unoriginal plot. But in this day and age I’m not so sure if these types of films really accomplish anything when trying to present a picture of post civil rights multicultural unity.

    2. Michele Post author

      One thing to note is that while Sussue Hayakawa (the actor) is actually Japanese, he insisted that his character NOT be Japanese. So instead DeMille made the character Burmese, what affect if any does this have on your reading of the film?

  7. Levi Brown

    Melodrama is interesting because it depends entirely upon the film’s ability to yank at the viewers heartstrings. Personally, I get the sense that doing so is extremely hard to do genuinely so films fall back on external circumstances to create a world of hopelessness wherein the smallest positive actions ripple out like waves on a lake. When such positives are contrasted against these apparently overwhelming negatives, viewers can feel very sympathetic for the characters. Take, for example, The Land Beyond Sunset (Dorothy Shore, 1912), immediately the title hints at some romantic land just outside the reaches of what people can see, in short, a fantasy. Though to make the fictional land appealing to the viewers, the current conditions of the boy need to be presented as poor, which they do. The boy’s situation is bleak but not dire and viewers can clearly see his desire to leave elsewhere. However, melodrama constantly aims for the reverie, in this case the fairy tale the woman reads to him.
    This is the moment where I believe melodrama puts itself at risk as it asks viewers to suspend not only disbelief but, again these are my thoughts, a bit of common sense as well. After the boy hears the story at the picnic, he decides to take the boat out onto the lake and sail away to the fantasy land. Admittedly, this is a touching moment but if a viewer thinks for one second that sailing into the sunset is ridiculous, they immediately break the romantic illusion. That is the fragile line that melodrama treads. A director or writer needs to decide how close to the line they are willing to play. For example, Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven (2002) centers around a white woman having feelings for a black man. Today nothing would be wrong with that however, the film takes place during the 50s and that places social constraints upon them. Because their love is forbidden based on something as arbitrary as skin color, modern viewers feel sympathetic towards the characters. However, the two characters never make an honest effort to be together. If they had really tried they could have gone off to Canada together. Canada was accepting runaways since pre-Civil War times and were very open-minded. Connecticut is not that far away from Canada.
    To me, both Far From Heaven and The Land Beyond Sunset operate as decent melodramas, allowing powers far greater than the characters to dictate their lives but there are still melodramas out there that work better as a whole. Take for instance Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves (1996). Waves is a film that works so well within the melodrama genre that it is difficult to realize the film is one. The reason being that the ‘greater force’ is the husbands’ paralyzation rather than a social or economic force. Recent melodramas are very different than older melodramas mostly because of the country’s constant push towards a more progressive, open-minded. Since the civil rights movement and more recently the push for equal rights for same-sex marriage, the subject matter for melodrama is dwindling. Though this does not mean that there are no more subjects for melodramas. Filmmakers today will often base their film in a foreign country but doing so have some implications. There is always the risk of having the film portrayed inaccurately through the lens of a foreigner as opposed to a national. A reason for this could be that some of the remaining topics in America just are not as appealing as past topics. I don’t expect to see a NAMBLA movie anytime soon.
    While melodrama is far from over, hopefully future filmmakers will explore new subjects and methods for creating good melodrama.

    1. Christophe Freeman

      Yes! Melodrama is exactly that. It makes the viewer feel sympathetic with the characters. I think the class used in these kinds of films allow for their character’s problems to consume them. In Steel Magnolia’s the characters are “well off” so they are allowed the chance to worry about problems. If they were of a lower class it wouldn’t be such a big deal that she couldn’t conceive. Bills would probably be her main focus. Since money isn’t an issue family problems can be exaggerated to the extreme and the audience can relate directly to one issue.

  8. Allison Hudson

    Class is definitely a main component in both The Land Beyond the Sun and Where are my Children. The slums are brought up in both films. The little boy is from the slums and manages to brighten up his life. In Where are my Children, the slums are where the “unwanted” children are forced to live because they are diseased or defective in some way.
    I think Where are my Children drew me in the most because I was not aware that topics like abortion and birth control were made public. I found the film creepy and disturbing, but I’m sure at the time it was a helpful advocate for the right to birth control. I could see how the emotion could be brought out of women watching this. Abortions were much more dangerous and high risk than they are now, so although this film seems extreme it had the ability to evoke an emotional response from the audience. I know the scene at the end with children superimposed around the aging couple was an emotional (and creepy) moment for me. It was sad and it works as a melodrama because of the visual effects.
    A more modern melodrama that I enjoy is The Great Gatsby. It does remind of me The Land Beyond the Sunset because Gatsby is a poor boy who wants more out of life. He manages to make something of himself in a search for true happiness. There is a social divide in the film that is shown visually, but is also discussed. Between the luxurious homes and the exciting city life, there is an industrial section where the working class makes a living. Though the characters are rich, they must jump back into the poor life while making their commute back and forth. The love story between Gatsby and Daisy helps to create an emotional tie to the viewer. Ultimately, the characters want more and more even though they have everything they need, i.e. Daisy’s husband wanting a woman on the side or Gatsby needing to “make something of himself (be rich)” to have love. This reflects society and mass consumerism in the way that filmmakers in the Industrial Revolution tried to portray. The society is a collective and wants more and more, playing into consumerism.

  9. Angelo Lima

    In sampling the melodrama films with ideas of race and class function the films act in a very stereotypical manner to other films that show less race and class function in them. The ways emotion functions is more in a melodrama than in another film of any genre or kind with more of a personality on the character for instance. The mise-en-scene contributes to the heightened emotion with it’s great decor of intense and well detailed scenery that almost matches the personality of most of the characters in the film shown for this module.

    1. Christophe Freeman

      I agree emotion functions in melodrama more than any other film as well. Melodrama makes emotion its focus just like thrillers make tension its focus. Everything about melodrama films contribute to making the audience empathetic to the characters.

  10. Angelo Lima

    I would have to say only the recently made works draw me in because I have never really been interested in silent films all throughout the learning process of film. Don’t get me wrong all the films had a great meaning, but the newer films were more visually pleasing. I would have to say the gender of the writer/director influence the tenor of the film most of the time because each gender on a writer or directors part each have their own style of portraying the high points of the two careers in film. I would have to say the only real melodrama I have seen lately is Meet the Little Focker which had a great style of directing with a great combination of a script for the film. This film compares to the others viewed on the website because of the comedic attitude that you get from the characters, but the also with the static emotions that are revealed in the other videos.

  11. Steven Colonero

    I do have to agree with you Angleo that more recent attempts at this grab my attentions however I do feel it is more because of the style that these older examples display. They are overacted and display relationships that we as audience members find it hard to relate to. That is why I enjoyed the more recent Far From Heaven, because I felt that Moore’s character is a throwback to how those characters are represented in the cinema. I actually found the newer remake of Mildard Pierce to be a great example of a modern melodrama because of the way the film is shot, much like a film Nior like the book it is based off of as well as Winslet portrayal of the character because she does not display this typical damsel in distress. She is a strong women that is also matched by her equally strong and stubborn daughter. I feel as though Mildard Pierce uses many of the same techniques that Far From Heaven uses although Heaven has a crisper image quality as well as equally crisp art design that draws the viewer into the 1950s lifestyle that these individuals live in. Pierce uses dim lighting and classic nior style that add a different twist on the melodrama genre, but this is just my opinion.

    1. Michele Post author

      I love Far From Heaven, but really it is just a remake of Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows. Haynes is paying tribute to a whole line of female melodrama and owes a lot to Films like Mildred Pierce.

  12. Benjamin Romang

    In these select films, and most melodramas in that sense, race and class are the driving forces behind the film’s tragedy. The little boy in The Land Before Sunset and Raymond in Far from Heaven are both victims of class and racial prejudice, even though these are characters of high virtue. As chapter six explains, “It was often easier for the lower classes to discover truth and to achieve virtue or moral wisdom because simple people were less burdened with artificial knowledge and distinction than nobility (Belton 130). This is an important aspect in experiencing the tragedy of melodramas, and the way in which a character’s moral was threatened by social status. It is these characters that, as Belton says, are the “emotional-touchstones” that provide the films with a sense of right from wrong.
    What I enjoyed about Far From Heaven was trying to figure out what would be the social crisis of the film, then finding out there were a few, from homosexuality to racial discrimination. And as Melodramas were defined, these were domestic problems for the protagonist Kathy.
    A modern melodrama would be My Left Foot in which the main character Christy (Daniel Day-Lewis) is born with cerebral palsy yet overcomes obstacles to become a writer and painter, using only his left foot. The main character must deal with the crisis of human emotion and faces overwhelming social pressures, a trademark of early melodramas.

  13. Kendrick Branch

    As two of the largest systematic social issues, race and class have the power to tap into the wells of human emotion beneath fear and love. In both the recent and silent films, race and class help develop tension and move forward what is typically an unoriginal plot. I like what Levi said about how some melodramas attempt to suspend audience disbelief and common sense. This may explain my unease with the Lifetime Movie Network. Being drawn into these movies emotionally occurs naturally on some levels, but often requires less thinking.
    After the rough visual aesthetic of the silent films, I was enthralled by the color and sound in the more modern ‘Far from Heaven,’ yet the plot seemed just as implausible. The directors of the sampled films, male or female, approach melodrama similarly and by the book.
    ‘Garden State’ is probably the closest to melodrama that I have seen recently. Tragic dream sequences portray a very personal sense of hopelessness for the single male protagonist. The comedic undertone of the film is why I say probably. I like that the jokes compete with the heavy emotional content. They bring a refreshing sort of reality to an audience that has been drawn into a melodramatic world, almost making fun of the simple plot.

  14. Shenese Doll

    I think in Land Beyond the Sunset, the child draws alot of emotion. Immediately, the film relies on the emotions of humans because the film opens with a boy trying to sell papers. Though we do not know who the boy is yet, we can tell that he is poor because of his clothes and the desperation on his face. Later, when we do see where he lives, even more emotion is use because it seems as if he lives with a grandmother who is not as emotionally available as she should be to the boy. So we see a poor, lonely boy, who is provided basic needs by the woman, but she does not provide the loving support that humans need from their parents/guardians.
    Once the boy is at the picnic, though it is for poor children, he seems to be the only one with torn clothing on. And as his day goes on, he wishes for a better life. The audience cannot help but want better for the boy as well. The story would not crossover as effective had the boy been the same poor boy but with both parents who showed love to him. Though he would have still been poor, he would have a the love of a parent that would make him want t go back home. It is not just the boys social class that helped the story function as melodrama, it the way his life is portrayed in all other aspects.

    1. Shenese Doll

      A more recent film I ‘ve seen that is under melodrama is Meet the Robinsons. Though the animated film is comedic and even musical, the heart of the film is melodrama. It begins with an orphaned boy who wants to see his real mother. He ultimately just wants to wanted and loved..He also happens to be a genius, so he makes a machine to go back in time, but a boy from the future warns him of a man who wears a bowler hat, who wants to destroy him. He doesn’t believe him, so the boy ends up going to the future with the kid, where he spends time with the future kid’s family and wishes he could stay there because they all make him feel loved and special. I won;t spoil it for those who have not seen it, but basically the movie is in my opinion one of the epitomes of melodrama!!

  15. Savannah Steiner

    Land beyond the Sunset played a lot with body language. The boy would slump and walk slow when he gave up. His emotions weren’t just on his face. He wore them on his sleeve. The grandmother was edgy and irritable. She didn’t have much real emotion shown at all. She was poor and the film associated older poor people being grumpy and children being sad. I really think a scene that worked real well with the build up of emotion was when the boy was sleeping next to his grandmother and sneaks off. It was very well done and emotionally driven. This is because the audience wants him to be able to go to the picnic. They also don’t want him to get caught by the grandmother. So the emotion we see in the boy isn’t just fear and excitement, it is determination and courage. This makes us believe the scene much more and draws us in even further. The scene where the woman reads to the boy is also very emotional. She is very into it and shows her adoration for children. It is seen through the way she moves her arms and reads the book.
    We see the boy’s emotions heighten when he is in the world other than his own such as the street and the picnic. When he got into the boat the feelings for the boy grew stronger because of how bad you feel for him and how much you want him to live a happier life.
    I felt like it was very surfaced however. This is because we saw no real emotion from the grandmother or the passersby. It was cliche and to reliant on social class status quos. I haven’t seen much movies lately so I can’t really compare. It reminds me of Annie, how the child is unhappy and poor and forced to work. The guardian of the child is mean and destructive in a cliche sort of way making the child want to escape to a better home. Finally they meet paradise and voila! They are happy and free.

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