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Jean Cocteau, the first French writer to take cinema seriously, was as old and young as cinema itself; he made his first film in 1925 and completed his last film when he was 70. This book first deals with the issue of the type of film maker that Cocteau was: as a auteur, as a collaborator, as an experimenter, and as a theorist. It takes the pulse of Cocteau's cinema by examining in detail his ground-breaking first film Le Sang d'un poète', and argues that the film offers a vision of the potential of film for Cocteau. The book traces the evolution of realism and fantasy in Cocteau's work by introducing a main element, theatre, and assesses the full gamut of Cocteau's formal inclinations: from the legend and fantasy of L'Eternel retour to the spectacular fairytale of La Belle et la bête; from the 'film théâtral' of L'Aigle à deux têtes to the domestic melodrama Les Parents terribles which 'detheatricalises' his original play. In Le Testament d'Orphée, all the various formal tendencies of Cocteau's cinema come together but with the additional element of time conceived of as history, and the book re-evaluates the general claim of Cocteau's apparently missed encounter with history. The book considers whether the real homosexual element of Cocteau's cinema surfaces more at the most immediate level of sound and image by concentrating on the specifics of Cocteau's filmic style, in particular camera angle, framing and reverse-motion photography.

Heidi J. Holder

alive if only to assault us.’ 2 In domestic melodrama, we experience the paranoia that accompanies the presentation of evil in recognisable surroundings, and the sense of purgation that comes with the providential defeat of the villain who threatens the home. In the subgenre of melodrama in a colonial setting, the landscape is seen as an extension of its native inhabitants. For example, in J

in Acts of supremacy
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.

Ruth Livesey

This chapter explores Harkness’s first novel in the context of socialist fiction and the future of the modern novel in the 1880s. A City Girl pivots on one of the staple formulae of earlier nineteenth-century domestic melodrama and its radical political possibilities: a cross-class romantic relationship in which a working-class girl is seduced and abandoned by a gentleman. Unpicking how this novel reworks the inherited forms of radical melodrama helps to shed new light on Friedrich Engels’s famous critique of the work’s relation to realism and the status of literary naturalism in 1880s Britain. The Princess Casamassima – Henry James’s self-consciously experimental foray into naturalism and the political activism of 1880s London – serves as a counterpoint to illustrate the pressure of representation in the modernity of late Victorian mass culture. The chapter ends by returning to Katharine Buildings, Whitechapel, and Harkness’s time spent there researching A City Girl. Drawing on the correspondence and record books of Ella Pycroft, the resident lady rent collector, and Harkness’s cousin Beatrice Potter Webb, this chapter presents a counter-narrative that suggests how the residents themselves tried to write back their own life stories against an interpretative community of social activists, philanthropists, novelists, and political agents.

in Margaret Harkness
John Gibbs

content or story-­value. It is also the 196 The life of mise-en-scène reason why the domestic melodrama in colour and widescreen, as it appeared in the ’40’s and ’50’s is perhaps the most highly elaborated, complex mode of cinematic signification that the American Cinema has ever produced, because of the restricted scope for external action determined by the subject, and because everything, as Sirk said, happens ‘inside’. To the ‘sublimation’ of the action picture and the Busby Berkeley/Lloyd Bacon musical into domestic and family melodrama correspond a sublimation

in The life of mise-en-scène
Open Access (free)
The King’s Speech as melodrama
Nicola Rehling

. 2 Martha Vicinus, ‘“Helpless and unfriended”: nineteenth-century domestic melodrama’, New Literary History 13:1 ( 1981 ), p. 130. 3 Peter Brooks, The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama and the Mode of Excess (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2nd edn, 1995 ), pp. 42

in The British monarchy on screen
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Malcolm Chase

derives from the late-twentieth century’s preoccupation with the Queen Caroline affair. From the early 1980s, increasingly gender-aware scholarship made the second half of 1820 one of the most intensively investigated six months in modern British history. What Thompson dismissed in 1963 as ‘humbug’ into which ‘we need not enquire’, Thomas Laqueur in a path-breaking article of 1982 explained was a domestic melodrama, ‘a play about marriage, about women, home and family’. For Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, writing in 1987, it was a cradle for the public affirmation

in 1820
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John Gibbs

that year. ‘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. Having identified and discussed a range of different models of melodramatic mise-­en-­scène expressed in that article, which lead in a range of productive directions, the chapter then looks at debates emerging in the other articles, including the 8 The life of mise-en-scène relationship between mise-­en-­scène and point of view, ‘distanciation’ and other

in The life of mise-en-scène
Melodrama and politics in late Georgian England
Robert Poole

of domestic melodrama.29 The stock characters of melodrama were oppressors and their victims: evil aristocrats and tyrannical parents against virtuous maids, steadfast heroes and wronged children. Melodrama was (in Peter Brooks’s words) ‘a mode of high emotionalism and stark ethical conflict’, presenting a ‘Manichaestic struggle of good and evil’. There was always a climactic scene in which the inner workings of corruption, and often the hidden family connections between estranged characters, were revealed. The usual result was a dramatic recognition and

in Politics, performance and popular culture
Sylvie Magerstädt

. Consequently, I will first look at how the show deals with history, before exploring the role of domestic melodrama and female characters throughout the show. When examining the series one quickly notes that I, Claudius’s blend of history and gossip is even discussed within the narrative of the series. For instance, in episode 10 (‘Fool’s Luck’), Emperor Claudius (Derek Jacobi), the storyteller of the show, reveals to his friend Herod (James Faulkner) that he is writing a book. Herod inquires what kind of book he is writing, to which Claudius replies ‘A truth’. Herod asks

in TV antiquity