Essay on Melodrama and Heaven Allows

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Both Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Todd Haynes have drawn on Sirk’s film melodramas in their films. Discuss the differences and similarities between their uses of Sirkian melodrama in their films Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Far From Heaven. In developing your analysis you should engage with theoretical debates about these filmmakers’s work and theories of melodrama, and you should support your analysis through close reading of the films

Douglas Sirk, a Danish-German film director, is best known for being the father of Melodrama. He is commonly referred to as a master of the weepie (Willemen 1972) and has been an inspiration and paved the way for other directors to use and adapt his work. One film that has been embraced and recreated is
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Cathy is a character full of compromises on behalf of the greater good of everyone around her; it is through her immense suffering and lack of upfront action that she ultimately finds her virtuosity. In contrast, Fassbinder utilises a different approach to Haynes and hence defying the melodramatic mode in Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. Unlike Cathy however, Emmi does not find virtuosity through suffering for the greater good of others. According to Williams, this film is an example that falls under the category of melodrama without a victim-hero. This is punctuated by Emmi’s passive and mean comments to Ali throughout, but exemplified perfectly in one scene. This is when Emmi refers to him in the third person when he gets upset in front of her friends and says “He has his moods; that’s his foreign mentality” (Skvirsky 2008). Furthermore, unlike Cathy, Emmi is not perceived as passively inactive, because she is able to stand up for herself. This can be seen when Ali is refused service by the shopkeeper, because his German is not understandable and is told to come back only when he has learnt how to speak properly. Emmi sees the problem of the situation and does not concede, confronting the shopkeeper where at the end of their argument, both come to the mutual agreement Emmi will not shop there anymore. This reveals to the audience that her ability to stand up for herself, coupled with her passing comments of cruelty aimed at Ali and his nationality, does not