Melodramas are often defined as films that are overthe top with excessive bursts of passion and spectacle. Their heyday was from 1930 to 1960 although the study of melodrama as a cinematic.
genre only arose in 1977 when the Society for the Education in Film and Television commissioned papers on them for a study weekend. They have a characteristically rich visual style where ordinary experiences are heightened. However, they tend to turn inwards when dealing with conflict and the .
mise-en-scene is vital in giving the spectator an .
insight into what is not being said. When it comes .
to discussing the significance of mise-en-scene in .
melodramas, there is no better director than .
Douglas Sirk, who was a master of capturing the .
"fugitive passing of a feeling that remains .
inexpressible- through mise-en-scene. Besides .
using it to express what his characters could not .
articulate, he also styled it to levels of excess .
and artifice, which take on a whole other set of .
symbolic and social connotations. Sirk did "not .
deal in despair but in aesthetic beauty- . He .
provided spectacle by showing the tragedies of sex, .
alcoholism, murder and death but framed them with .
close detail to aesthetic meaning and symbolism. I .
agree with Elsaersser's suggestion but will .
elaborate on the other aspects of importance which .
mise-en-scene takes on, such as how it was often .
structured to appeal to consumer trends .
It was while employed at Universal-International .
that Sirk made his most memorable and critically .
regarded melodramas. This essay will be looking at .
three of his most famous films, All That Heaven .
Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1957) and .
Imitation of Life (1959). All three deal with .
family concerns and a feeling of claustrophobia, .
either in a small town setting or in the bourgeois .
home. The opening of All that Heaven Allows .
immediately sets the context in which the narrative .
will be played out in; a small town in middle-.