History of Cinema 2

December 9th, 2010

Film Analysis 2

Posted by dmaldonado in Uncategorized

Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind (1956) is a classic melodramatic film. The film touches upon many societal issues. There are conflicts about difference between social classes, relationships among men and women, questions of masculinity, family relationships, alcoholism, and many others. A scene that resonated with me the most was when Marylee quite literally dances her father to death. This scene in particular commentates about the individual characters in general but most importantly the relationship amongst family members, particularly in a wealthy family.

The scene caught my attention because of the upbeat music as well as the vivid use of color, but most importantly because of the way the scene was filmed was very interesting to me. The scene was a very brilliant way of showing Jasper’s death because there is no dialogue but so much is being said. There is much contrast on what first appears to be a cheerful upbeat scene as opposed to what was actually happening outside of Marylee’s room.

The scene begins with Marylee entering her room after being driven home by the police. After lighting her cigarette and grabbing the photograph of Mitch, she begins to dance. Immediately one notices the reasons for her actions, being Mitch, the center of her world. When watching the scene, I also noticed the lighting, how it competes with the upbeat music, it was not as vibrant as other scenes, perhaps because it is in fact at night but I think it helps to foreshadow what is about to happen and to remind us that this is in fact is not a happy scene.

There is then a cut in the scene to Jasper’s office. As he leaves the office to go up to Marylee’s room, Mitch has the gun in his hand and puts it back in the drawer. This can be perceived as another way of foreshadowing what is to come. We then go back to Marylee’s room where she is now wearing a bright red gown, also possibly another indicator of death. There is a back and forth between Jasper going up the stairs and Marylee dancing in her room, and it seems as though the closer he gets to her room, the more fiercely Marylee dances, and the louder the music gets.

It is also very ironic how when Jasper starts to fall down the stairs, the music appears to accompany the action. Another instance in which that appears to happen is when Lucy looks down the stairs, the music is almost in cue with her reaction as well. Marylee’s change of clothes may something else to pay attention to. She starts off wearing white, then black, then red. Also her clothes become more revealing. This change in wardrobe can help symbolize the father’s death as well as Marylee showing her “true colors.”

Also to notice is the way Jasper leaves his office to go see Marylee. He is the only person to speak in the scene, his final words and yet it is very brief. Similarly his death was very sudden as well. Also as the camera cuts between Jasper and Marylee as Jasper goes up the stairs, Marylee’s back is turned as her father goes up the stairs. This parallel  between those cuts can describe their kind of relationship. Without Marylee’s knowledge, her back is turned on her father which leads to his demise. As he continues to go up the stairs her lower part of her body is only being shown, indicating her disrespect and complete disregard towards her father. This view also  reminds the viewer as to why this situation occurred in the first place, because of her promiscuity.

This scene says a lot about the individual characters particularly Marylee and Jasper. As for Marylee, this scene shows how selfish and self centered she is. The fact alone that she begins to play music loudly at a time in which everyone appears to be sleeping along with her other actions throughout the film reinforces this idea. Marylee is completely oblivious of what is occurring outside of her room, indicating how she tends to dirsregard things that are not in her immediate world.

Jasper Hadley throughout the film is a pretty stagnant character. He is a typical  parent who cares for the well being of his children. His downfall was in part due to perhaps his downfall as a father. The way of life of the Hadleys was full of luxury and as a result, his children became spoiled and self destructive beings, completely uncapable of controlling their lives.

This scene and film in general helps to illustrate that looks are deceiving. Although from the surface, the Hadleys appear to be a very fortunate family blessed with wealth which are times associated with happiness, is in fact a family full of instability ultimately leading to tragedy.

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