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Transcript of Silent Melodrama
Silent MelodramaBackground for Redskin and Other Films
Melodrama Works primarily on a nonverbal and emotional level, a common base of feeling that crosses over all linguistic barriers (Belton 127).Primarily concerned with establishing mood or emotion
Two Senses of the WordAs a genre, melodrama has specific kinds of characters, plots, and so on.Melodrama is a modal genre: a melodramatic style is a means of heightened emotional expression that crosses into genres such as comedies and westerns.
Melodrama, continuedTries to make visible and bring to the surface (through images and music) that which is invisible or felt but not recognizedOften relies on stylistic excess (color, set, costume design, methods of filming)
Melodrama, continuedIs about the family, connections among individuals, and the loss and recovery of feelings (130)Children and animals are often touchstones, since they perceive feelings and are less constrained about expressing them.
Classical Tragedy and MelodramaTragedySubject matter is the aristocracyThe restoration of order, not the questioning of that order, is a primary goalThe protagonist is identified with the state and the public sphere.MelodramaSubject matter is middle or lower classQuestioning of the social order and even rooting for the underdog is the norm.The protagonist is identified with the private sphere of home and community.
Tragedy and Melodrama, continuedStatic relationship between individual and social orderVirtue and wisdom the property of the aristocracy
Dynamic relationship between individual and social order; individuals can prosper, move up (or down) in class, etc.Virtue and wisdom are attainable by anyone
Tragedy and Melodrama, continuedClassical tragedy relies on inevitability; all is determined and nothing is contingent or variable.
Melodrama lacks a sense of inevitability; all events are contingent and not inevitable or predeterminedIts politics are often reformist, populist, and even revolutionary.
Spatialized Representation of Values in MelodramaCity: associated with modernity, anonymity, isolation, technology, industrialism, corruptionCountry: associated with innocence, nature, abundance, preindustrialism, familythe Garden of Eden or a place of respite from modernity.
Since melodrama often centers on home, a common plot is the threat to the home or family (Fatal Attraction)
Temporalized Representation of Values
The past: site of values and a place of order before the disruptions of modernityThe present: fragmented, chaotic, corrupt; the values of the past are often invoked to restore order.
Films for TodayWhite Fawns Devotion, dir. James Young Deer (1910)Ramona, dir. D. W. Griffith (1910)Scenes from The Vanishing American, dir. George B. Seitz (1925)