Imitation of Life (1959)… wholesome, Sunday, Sirkian relaxation!

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Imitation of Life

My rating: 9

IMDB rating: 7.9

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052918/?ref_=ttmd_md_nm

Dearest reader,

I am afraid that we will search for the next 50 years and never again find anyone close to Douglas Sirk. His movies are so packed with life lessons, romance, fun, social issues, etc. that you cannot help but become 100% emerged in his films.

This film, even more than All that Heaven Allows that I talked about previously, relies heavily on racial ignorances and feminist narratives. Lora, even more than Cary, needs to assert herself to keep her and her daughter, and eventually Annie and her daughter as well, afloat.

Lora certainly pays a heavy price for her need for assertion. She barely sees her family and soon realises that fame definitely comes at a price. She even sacrifices Steve’s love for her, not once but twice. Annie steps in as a mother figure for Susie, in doing so she neglects her own child. Sarah Jane’s hatred of her skin colour just keeps on growing and growing. In the end she sees herself as a bad mother, although she was actually a very good mother, just not to her own child.

To me, the opening shot is very catching as it sketches the setting or the world that these characters live in, perfectly. The extreme long shot, shot from an elevated angle shows a beach filled with only white bodies. Key figures in the study of white ignorance have often remarked on this attribute of humankind to view white as normative. In fact, they say that whites are unable to recognise their whiteness, unless there is someone of colour present.

All of us sometimes lie about who we are, but just as Sirk’s melodramas are fond of teaching a few lessons; one of these lessons are that one should never deny one’s heritage. It is important to rather embrace your past, in order to live a happier life. Sarah Jane unfortunately only realises the value of her mother, when it is too late.

What I love about this film, is the way it promotes positive discussions on both the subject of racial divide and of feminist discourse. Lora excepts Annie into her home and although I believe that she did not intend it at first, she treats Annie as an equal. Annie, on the other hand, who starts out in a submissive position becomes the family’s friend, confidante and another ‘mother figure’.

Want to read more on Imitation of Life? Try these…

Throwback Thursday: Classic Cinema Review 

Imitation of Life (rewatch).

Frankly my dear

 

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