"Giant" and "Written on the Wind": Capturing the Essence of the Romantic Melodrama

"Giant" and "Written on the Wind": Capturing the Essence of the Romantic Melodrama

Length: 2033 words (5.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Aristotle once said that, "The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." That statement summarizes the highest intents of a classic romantic melodrama. To watch movies like Giant or Written on the Wind, two staples of the genre, is to watch storytellers who care less about their plot than its meaning. The scope of their statements still resonates with society. These are stories of infectious greed, of broken dreams, of ruined families, and of the general malaise surrounding the American dream. The morality tales beneath the plots of Giant and Written on the Wind show the Greatest Generation's greatest fears. Through these, they capture the true essence of Romantic Melodrama.
In caring more about what they say and less about how they say it, these two movies lean on the common archetypes of melodrama. Rock Hudson's performance as Bick Benedict in Giant and his performance as Mitch Wayne in Written on the Wind are almost identical. Hudson's handsomeness and gentle delivery were such perfect fits for the protagonists in these films that he created an archetype in an of himself. The Hudson-archetype was symbolically united with "nature on a grand scale," be it through the country boy in Giant or the brown toned, hunter-businessman in Written on the Wind (McDonald, 846). There is an argument that Bick Benedict is a sort of anti-hero. He is a racist and a sexist. He is a uncaring father. He slips into alcoholism. But, those are not the Bick traits Giant highlights. Just as Written on the Wind ignores Mitch's backstabbing and paints him as a righteous force, the Hudson-archetype is defined by his forthrightness. Rohan McWIlliam summarized this trait up in her article, "Melodrama an...


... middle of paper ...


...em does that job for him.
Perhaps it is this simplification of emotion that bars these movies from being dated. There is a raw intensity to Giant that remains entertaining today, a wildness to Written on the Wind that never lost its bite. Perhaps it is the fact that these characters are so hyperbolic that we can do nothing but identify with them. Each one is an archetype, each one represents a moral virtue (or lack thereof). These movies put the most primal of American anxieties on the table and pick them apart with a surgical blade. They find the malignant tumors inside every American family. They find the transformative effects of greed, adultery, and countless other moral transgressions. Through this exploration, Giant and Written on the Wind are the very definition of classic Romantic Melodrama.
Or, perhaps, it's simply the earth tones of Rock Hudson's suit.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay Romantic Melodrama

- Aristotle once said that, "The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but the inward significance." Few statements sum up the intents of a good romantic melodrama than that one. To watch movies like Giant or Written on the Wind, two classics of the genre, is to watch stories that care less about their plot than their meaning. But, their meanings are grand in scope and still resonate today. These are stories of infectious greed, of broken dreams, of ruined families, and of the general malaise surrounding the American dream....   [tags: Films]

Powerful Essays
1882 words (5.4 pages)

Forms of Theater Arts: Melodrama Essay

- Through strong dramatic plots, characters and music, melodrama has created an engaging, well-developed form of theatre. But melodrama is not limited to one category. Like other forms of the theatre arts, melodrama can be further broken down into Victorian melodrama and Modern melodrama. As the names entail, Victorian melodrama was practiced in the Victorian Era (1837-1901) whereas Modern melodrama is still being performed today. Both equally exaggerated and emphasizing the good vs. evil conflict, these two forms of melodrama have shaped the stage theatrically and developed complexity in character and plot development....   [tags: Victorian and Modern melodrama]

Free Essays
523 words (1.5 pages)

St. Thomas Aquinas’ On Being and Essence Essays

- In St. Thomas Aquinas’ On Being and Essence, he devotes an entire chapter of his book discussing how essence is found in composite substances. “Form and matter are found in composite substances, as for example soul and body in man. But it cannot be said that either one of these alone is called the essence.’ Aquinas argues that in a composite substance, not only is the form but also matter in the essence of a thing. However, in Metaphysics, Aristotle says that essence is in the form, which acts upon matter....   [tags: Aquinas, Being and Essence, Metaphysics]

Powerful Essays
996 words (2.8 pages)

The True Essence of Romantic Love Essay

- In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, love is exemplified more ways that we can imagine, from the undying love of two people to parental love. Love celebrated by the protagonists with playful sonnets to express their endearment and love for one another. Love that transcends from such powerful gazes and translates into an undying love. Society’s encroachment to a very innate and fundamental aspect of our being is met with violence and death. We must not forget that the very essence of love is that you cannot control love....   [tags: Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet]

Powerful Essays
1141 words (3.3 pages)

The Romantic Victorians Essay

- The Romantic Victorians Finding a similarity between the Romantic era and the Victorian era can be quite a challenge because of the all the differences between them. “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison” written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a great example of a literary work of the Romantic era because of the various themes that compose it. The “The Lady of Shallot” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in the Victorian era is a poem that can portray the society that shaped the era. Both poems share the theme isolation because the main characters in the poem are isolated from others....   [tags: Romantic Era, Victorian Era, History, Movements]

Powerful Essays
1695 words (4.8 pages)

Essay about The Romantic Period and Edgar Allan Poe

- The Romantic Period is characterized as an artistic and intellectually stimulating literary movement. Writers of this genre and time are considered to be those who fused the elements of romance in their writings to enhance the human experience. Edgar Allan Poe, known as the father of the modern short story, epitomizes this notion in his writings. In “Annabel Lee,” and “The Oval Portrait,” Edgar Allan Poe uses romance to illustrate the essence of death and misery and to illustrate elements in which the reader can actually feel that was is happening in the story is happening to them....   [tags: Romantic Period, literary, Poe,]

Powerful Essays
532 words (1.5 pages)

Melodrama Essay

- There are many debates in Film Studies over what films count as melodramas. Film scholar Steve Neale’s essay, “Melodrama and the Woman’s film,” describes the paradigm shift that melodrama has experienced from the Silent era to the 70’s. On the other hand, Christine Gledhill’s essay, “Rethinking Genre” and “The Melodramatic Field: An Investigation,” suggest that melodrama is just a mode and, not, in fact, a genre. While Thomas Elsaesser’s essay “Tales of Sound and Fury: Observations on The Family Melodrama,” identifies the different types of melodrama....   [tags: Literary Analysis,Steve Neal, Christine Gledhil]

Powerful Essays
1420 words (4.1 pages)

The Saddest Music in the World: A Surreal Melodrama Essay

- Canadian filmmaker and cinephile, Guy Maddin once said, “I do feel a bit like Dracula in Winnipeg. I’m safe, but can travel abroad and suck up all sorts of ideas from other filmmakers… Then I can come back here and hoard these tropes and cinematic devices.” Here, Maddin addresses his filmmaking saying that he takes aspects from different film styles and appropriates them into his own work. In The Saddest Music in the World (2003), Maddin uses a combination of French Surrealist filmmaking and classical American Hollywood cinema, specifically melodrama, to create his own style....   [tags: Cinema]

Powerful Essays
2152 words (6.1 pages)

The Essence of Romanticsim Essay

- The Essence of Romanticsim Romanticism, which first appeared in the 1770s in Germany and England, grew out of the entanglement of thoughts and perceptions in the eighteenth century known as the Enlightenment. The Movement swept through Europe like a candle dropped in a hay barn, and by the 1820s its far-reaching flames had engulfed the French; the rest of Europe followed. Whereas the eighteenth century focused on reason and judgment, law and order, and the values of society universally, Romanticists emphasized imagination, emotion, freedom, individual worth, nature, far away places and forgotten times....   [tags: Papers]

Powerful Essays
860 words (2.5 pages)

Romantic Sensibility Essay

- In life as well as literature, some sought to display their sensibility by weeping and fainting and blushing and reacting extravagantly to scenes of poverty or illness. Sensibility was understood as a capacity intimately connected with the physical nature of nerves. Essential to its existence was its operation on the body as well as the mind. Thus a propensity to blush and weep might be taken as evidence that the weepers, full of sensibility, loved their neighbours as themselves. (Spacks 141) During the Romantic period, the Sensibility movement began: as a result, the "conduct of private affections, charity, education, sympathy, genius, honour, and even the use of reason…became political st...   [tags: Romantic Period]

Free Essays
299 words (0.9 pages)