All that Heaven Allows (1955)… re-viewing ignorances in the Sirkian melodrama

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All that Heaven Allows

My rating: 9

IMDB rating: 7.6

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047811/?ref_=ttmd_md_nm

Dearest reader,

“Put so much bombast into your filmmaking that inattentive viewers won’t pay attention to the underlying message, but clever viewers will hear what you want to say… nobody did this better than Douglas Sirk” Matthew Dessem

This is the third time that I watched this film and I promise you not the last. After I watched it the first time in film class, I showed it to my mother- and oh boy did she enjoy it! So, to me, this film is extra special.

Douglas Sirk is certainly one of the most famously brilliant directors that Hollywood has ever seen. He was born a Germany, but fled to America in 1937. Although he produced several films (43 in total) across several genres, he is most famous for his melodramas that formed part of the Classic Hollywood Cinema movement. Sirk, who influenced both Hitchcock and Tarantino, was critical of social conventions and he himself was heavily influenced by Brecht. He is also famous for his use of symbolism, colour, lighting and props.

Although this film is staged, it is very historically specific. The following issues also feature in this film specifically:

  • Class difference, presented as a critique of American society. This division between society is definitely not physical, but psychological. It is certainly more a state of mind, than it is about the equal access to wealth. Ron is not poor, but because of several reasons that exist solely in the mind of society, he is from a lower class.
  • There is some feminist critique here as well as it is Cary that has to change to fit to Ron. It is also Ron and Ned that makes the decisions and not Cary. Cary is also constantly policed, by her children and her peers, this leads to a type of desexualisation. Cary’s agency is never considered and choices are constantly being made for her by Ron and Ned. In Freudian terms, one can easily see these headaches of Cary as a certain conversion hysteria and the return of the repressed. The ending of the film leaves her completely desexualised as she becomes Ron’s carer and not his lover, in other words it is an a-sexual relationship.

There are so many aspects of this film that can be discussed, but today and tomorrow I will specifically focus on this film and Haynes’ reaction on it, Far From Heaven, that explores these ignorances (such as these listed above) even further.

One of the best examples of Sirk’s brilliance, is the use of mirrors in this film, so what out for those specific moments of artistic brilliance!

To read more on All that Heaven Allows, try these:

#95: All that Heaven Allows

All that Heaven Allows

EL: All that Heaven Allows

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