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Sam Rohdie

Melodrama Visconti worked in theatre, lyric opera and film. In each of these pursuits, though especially in theatre and lyric opera, he put into play (put into scene) a pre-existing text. In theatre, these texts were ancient (Shakespeare), relatively recent (Chekhov, Strindberg), or contemporary (Cocteau, Anouilh, Miller, Williams). What was interesting in these theatrical productions were their visual, spectacular aspects (decor, lighting, costume, gesture), no matter what the period from which they came. Visconti sought to find visual and sound equivalents for

in Film modernism
Mandy Merck

passed before Judith Williamson challenged Muggeridge by claiming that this celebrity melodrama could actually serve the Crown and the ideology of national unity that it represents. Writing just after the protracted strike that failed to halt the closure of Britain’s coal mines in 1984, Williamson observed that the pitmen’s wives sought the Queen’s support for their cause in the belief that she cared

in The British monarchy on screen
John Gibbs

6 Melodrama and mise-­en-­scène Considered as an expressive code, melodrama might therefore be described as a particular form of mise-­en-­scène, characterised by a dynamic use of spatial and musical categories, as opposed to intellectual and literary ones.1 This suggestion, from Thomas Elsaesser’s extraordinary article ‘Tales of Sound and Fury: observations on the family melodrama’, recognises a particularly strong relationship between mise-­en-­scène and melodrama. In the early 1970s, writing on melodrama provided some of the richest expressions of mise

in The life of mise-en-scène
Christophe Wall-Romana

2 Avant-garde working-class melodramas In the previous chapter, we discovered the broad conceptual range of Epstein’s master word, photogénie. What it seeks to link are: the embodiment of the viewer and the actors; the cinema apparatus as positive and ethical mediation (compared to Walter Benjamin’s aura-damaging mediation); and a paradoxical aesthetics at once avant-garde and utterly modernist, and rearguard in insisting that sensorial experiencing in the cinema remains haunted by the ghost of Symbolism. This complexity explains how easy it has been for

in Jean Epstein
Brian McFarlane and Deane Williams

While one of the distinguishing characteristics of Winterbottom’s oeuvre is his way of taking recognised genres and treating them in idiosyncratic ways, some of his work defies easy categorisation. A film such as Go Now , made for television but shown in cinemas in some countries, is a case in point: it exhibits some of the informing traits of melodrama but its treatment is in certain essentials

in Michael Winterbottom
Visual style and British film criticism, 1946–78
Author: John Gibbs

This book explores the role of mise-en-scene in melodrama criticism, and considers what happened to detailed criticism as major theoretical movements emerged in the 1970s. Mise-en-scene, and other ways of conceiving visual style, has been central to so many important debates that the writing examined in the book shaped the field in enduring ways. The book provides a cross-section of the British culture and its attitudes to film. It also considers a range of important contexts, from material conditions of film viewing (and therefore criticism) to the cultural and political shifts of 1956. The book further investigates the frequently asserted connection between literary criticism and the approaches developed in Movie. It identifies the range of different approaches to interpreting mise-en-scene advanced in Movie, drawing out sections on action, camera movement and placing, connections between different parts of the film, and a range of further debates. 'Tales of Sound and Fury' is an extraordinary article, and Elsaesser's appreciation of the plastic and expressive qualities of domestic melodrama and the broader melodramatic tradition is exemplary. In the early 1970s, writing on melodrama provided some of the richest expressions of mise-en-scene criticism. The book embodies a number of approaches which were to undermine the emergent interest in the interpretation of the film style. Melodrama criticism is a crucial focus for shifts in film criticism and theory, and for this history.

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Author: Brian Mcfarlane

Lance Comfort began to work in films between the age of 17 and 19, more or less growing up with the cinema. When he came to make 'B' films in the 1950s and 1960s, his wide-ranging expertise enabled him to deal efficiently with the constraints of tight budgets and schedules. He was astute at juggling several concurrent plot strands, his prescient anticipation of postwar disaffection, the invoking of film noir techniques to articulate the dilemma of the tormented protagonist. Comfort's reputation as a features director seemed to be made when Hatter's Castle, made by Paramount's British operation, opened at the Plaza, Piccadilly Circus, after a well-publicised charity première attended by the Duchess of Kent and luminaries such as Noel Coward. He had been in the film business for twenty years when, in 1946, he directed Margaret Lockwood in Bedelia. Comfort is not the only director who enjoyed his greatest prestige in the 1940s and drifted into providing fodder for the bottom half of the double-bill in the ensuing decades. There were six intervening films, justifying the journalist who described him in early 1943 as the Busiest British film director. Great Day, Portrait of Clare, Temptation Harbour, Bedelia, Daughter of Darkness, and Silent Dust were his six melodramas. He was an unpretentious craftsman who was also at best an artist, and in exploring his career trajectory, the viewer is rewarded by the spectacle of one who responded resiliently to the challenges of a volatile industry.

A generation ago, Spain was emerging from a nearly forty-year dictatorship. This book analyses the significant changes in the aesthetics, production and reception of Spanish cinema and genre from 1990 to the present. It brings together European and North American scholars to establish a critical dialogue on the topic of contemporary Spanish cinema and genre while providing multiple perspectives on the concepts of national cinemas and genre theory. The book addresses a particular production unit, the Barcelona-based Fantastic Factory as part of the increasingly important Filmax group of companies, with the explicit aim of making genre films that would have an appeal beyond the Spanish market. It explores the genrification of the Almodovar brand in the US media and cinematic imaginary as a point of departure to tackle how the concepts of genre, authorship and Spanish cinema itself acquire different meanings when transposed into a foreign film market. Melodrama and political thriller films have been a narrative and representational form tied to the imagining of the nation. The book also examines some of the aspects of Carícies that distinguish it from Pons's other entries in his Minimalist Trilogy. It looks briefly at the ways in which the letter acts as one of the central melodramatic gestures in Isabel Coixet's films. After an analysis of the Spanish musical from the 1990s until today, the book discusses Spanish immigration films and some Spanish-Cuban co-productions on tourism and transnational romance.

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Author: Guy Austin

Claude Chabrol's films break down the dubious critical barrier between art cinema and popular cinema. Rejecting the avant-garde and the experimental, Chabrol chooses to work within the confines of established genres. He has in fact filmed farce, melodrama, fantasy, war films, spy films and glossy literary adaptations. Chabrol has excellent new-wave credentials and is in some ways a representative figure for this innovative film movement in French cinema. For the small budget of 32 million old francs, he was able to shoot Le Beau Serge over nine weeks in the winter of 1957/8 and film it in what was essentially his home village. Chabrol has known periods of great success (the launching of the new wave in 1958, the superb Hélène cycle of the late 1960s, including his most famous film Le Boucher for his return to form in the 1990s). He also has had periods of inactivity and failure. His depiction of the middle classes usually concentrates on the family. Le Cri du hibou begins as Masques ends, with a framed image from which the camera slowly tracks back to reveal the presence of a spectator. Given that in Chabrol's cinema women are often lacking in financial or social power, there are limits to the ways in which they can either define themselves or escape their situation. This is spelled out most clearly in Les Bonnes Femmes, where the potential escape routes are sex, marriage into the bourgeoisie, a career, romance or death.

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Author: Andrew Asibong

François Ozon was born in Paris to René and Anne-Marie Ozon on November 15, 1967. This book takes as one of its points of departure the idea that Ozon has consciously styled his œuvre thus far around a number of recurring tropes and themes, one of the most striking of which has been the emergence of adult sexualities and relations from out of the spectral carcasses of real or fantasised family members. Kinship, desire and violence thus structure the narratives of all the films under discussion, and can be seen to stamp Ozon's repertoire of images firmly with the mark of a self-styled auteur. The book discusses considers the majority of Ozon's short films together with his first feature Sitcom through the lens of desire, and demonstrates the extent to which Ozon's vision of human sexuality can be described as a fundamentally 'queer' and 'post-modern' one. It focuses on four of Ozon's simultaneously most accomplished and misunderstood films and approaches them via the perspective of the power relations they depict. They are Regarde la mer, Les Amants criminels, and 8 femmes. The book surveys a number of Ozon's films from the 2000s: Sous le sable, Swimming Pool, 5x2, and Le Temps qui reste. Sexual desire as represented by Ozon is almost always multidimensional and consistently astonishing in its capacity for boundless reinvention. His films frequently employ household servants among their cast of characters. Ozon uses tools borrowed from the toolbox of three genres: namely, horror, melodrama and musical.