WRITTEN ON THE WIND had all the sexual subtext and Technicolour madness needed to formulate the most influential of ridiculous melodramas. I see it in Iñarittu’s 21 GRAMS, Hayne’s FAR FROM HEAVEN (obviously), Fassbinder’s ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL, and the heart of gold trilogy by Lars Von Trier. Sure, these films have various other influences but there is a manner in which the music and the lights join together with the script and the performances to reach virtuosic crescendos of emotion and insanity.
I found the movie to be entertaining and the story hilarious. It’s charmingly dated in that way. Yet, I can respect the film. Being as how studied this film is and how many filmmakers take from it, what have you found influential or interesting about WRITTEN ON THE WIND or Sirk’s work as a whole?
Depends how you define “Sirkian melodrama.” For me at least, the closest to a definition you give (“the music and the lights join together with the script and the performances to reach virtuosic crescendos of emotion and insanity”) is really just a stylistic description of good melodrama (as a genre), where form is controlled to express emotions to a more stylized and overt degree than usual.
From what I’ve read Sirk is largely influenced by Ibsen, like Von Trier, like Bergman, and what they all seem to have picked up is the theme’s of Ibsen’s familial dramas. Dysfunctional marriages and families are definitely a staple of Sirk’s stuff. Thing is, I can’t distance his way of making melodramas from his outrageous style. Like his “Lubitsch” touch. That’s what I’m talking about.
Ibsen was all about “reality” whereas Sirk heightened reality to operatic proportions, to an nearly surreal plane. The candy colours, the expressionistic angles and symbolism, the theatrical burst of emotions, the breakneck speed at which people fall in love, out of love, want to kill, or actually kill, and all that loony stuff. I haven’t seen anything quite like it. Only the influences of that style of storytelling.
Maybe the words escape me to describe it in any fantastic sort of way. You put it out there, my definition of Sirkian melodrama is the way he uses a stylized form to express emotions. There is a particular way in which he used that form to make films that have influenced everybody and that style is recognizable enough for us to say, “Hey, that’s just like Sirk.”
I’m wondering how his style has influenced any writers, filmmakers, critics, and artists on The Auteurs.
Double post. Though I’ll take this space to say that the reason I posted this topic board was because WRITTEN ON THE WIND is the first Sirk movie I’ve seen after years of reading about him and his influences and watching films by those who admire him.
I want to know why it is so many people are influenced by him and found him so important as a filmmaker. Like, out of so many filmmakers that excelled at melodramatics, why him? What strikes you people? What brings you back to his work?