Film Analysis Of Imitation Of Life

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While Imitation of Life 's main story involves the fortunes and loves of a central female character, this story intersects with the racially charged trials and tribulations of an African-American woman and her light-skinned daughter. Both films offer the view that a white woman can improve her circumstances with enough guts, ingenuity, and physical attractiveness, but that African Americans, even those light enough to pass for white, are inherently unable to realize the rags-to-riches dream of the self-made person that infects Americans to this very day. Stahl’s film, a faithful adaptation of the Hurst novel, centers on Bea Pullman (Claudette Colbert), a widow barely supporting herself and her three year old daughter, Jessie, by running her…show more content…
Sirk’s use of musical conventions reminds us that this is Hollywood’s classical period, a time when the motto of the movies was to “make ‘em big”. Sirk’s version epitomizes this classic mentality through the use of extravagant sets and costumes. One of the major advertising points of the film was the cost of Turner’s wardrobe and jewels. In a clipping released by Universal International to theaters around the nation, Turner’s jewels were so valuable “she was accompanied by two armed guards at all times while the color production was being filmed” (. With a script much more layered and explicit in regards to the evils of the world, it depicts a greater distance between Lora and Annie, white and black. Even though racial tension has been featured in films before, Sirk confronts issues of race more aggressively then Stahl. The complex discussions of race in Imitation of Life go way beyond Sarah Jane’s integration into American society. Lucy Fischer explains:
Her rejection of a black doll invokes research on children’s racial identification; her anger with her mother bespeaks her generation’s rejection of domestic work; her affair with a white man reminds us of loosening prohibitions against screen miscegenation; Mahalia Jackson’s presence at Annie’s funeral sparks associations to the singer’s participation in civil rights demonstrations, and her role in mainstreaming of black gospel music” (Fischer

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