Senses of Cinema by Tom Ryan

April 7th, 2010

After reading Senses of Cinema: Douglas Sirk, I found this director to be really fascinating. I found it interesting that he used deus ex machina for melodramas, even though that was a style often used for ancient comedic Greek plays.

His use of mise en scene and baroque visual style reminded me of Orson Welles’ filmmaking. While reading Ryan’s essay about Sirk’s work, I constantly thought of a Welles’ film. When Ryan states that in Sirk’s work ‘you just see reflections’ or “the trauma of the world around”, and how a home that is supposed to be a haven becomes a prison, it reminded me of Citizen Kane. Kane’s mausoleum of a home, Xanadu, is not a sanctuary but a place to shut himself out from the rest of his world. The character’s story is told in reflections by those that he left a mark on. Also, he was traumatized by his loss of a childhood.

When Andrew Sarris’ described Sirk’s work as ‘fanciful and improbable’, I thought of another filmmaker that I tried to relate to his style with. I thought of Hitchcock whose films are often called improbable due to his constant use of red herrings.

When Ryan stated that Sirk’s work was often critiqued for its use of storylines that dealt with the failure of the American bourgeoisie, this reminded me of the slew of Italian films that dealt with life issues that upper class people in that country were facing during the 1950s and 1960s. Such films include: La Dolce Vita and Le Amiche (The Girlfriends).

What I like the most about this article on Sirk was the discovery that he made one of my favorite films, Imitation of Life (1959). Now I am looking forward to watching the film again to see his distinct way of filmmaking in the movie.

                                                                                                                                                                         Naeisha Rose

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