Film Analysis of All That Heaven Allows Essays

Film Analysis of All That Heaven Allows Essays

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Film Analysis of All That Heaven Allows

Chosen sequence: Golden Rain Tree/Cary's bedroom scene.

Before the emergence of 'auteur theory' the director Douglas Sirk was
a renowned exponent of classical Hollywood narrative, particularly in
the genre of romantic melodrama, of which his film All That Heaven
Allows is a classic example. However, he is now regarded as a master
of mise-en-scene, one of the few tools left to a director working
within the constraints of the Hollywood studio/institutional system
who is now thought to have been highly critical of American mainstream
culture and society in this prosperous era. 1, 2

The 'Golden Rain Tree' sequence occurs early on in the film after the
opening panoramic, establishing shot - showing the scene of the
action, a small middle-class New England town in autumn. The main
protagonists are soon introduced of which the prime causal agent is an
unsettled woman, Cary Scott (Jane Wyman), in keeping with romantic
melodrama. As a widow, she is a victim of circumstance who is eager to
change her life. Her friend visits (Mona) and hopes to persuade Cary
to take a conventional route out of widowhood but, by chance, she
meets the gardener, Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson) and from the mise-en-scene
in these opening scenes it is obvious that she would prefer a romantic
affiliation of some sort with Ron. After a few pleasantries, some tea
at the table outside Cary's house and some profound references to
gardening, Ron goes to hand Cary a small brance/twig, evidently a
token of deep affection.

The film so far displays all the conventions of classical narrative
and maintains all the dominant ideologies o...

... middle of paper ...

...lassical narrative cinema. In Being There, the character
and motives of Gardiner are made much clearer to the viewer through
the imaginative use of mise-en-scene, as illustrated above.

1. Carroll. Essay The Moral Ecology of Melodrama: The Family Plot and
Magnificent Obsession. p. 170.

2. Cook. p. 76-79.


An Introduction to Film Studies Jill Nelmes (ed.) Routledge 1996

Anatomy of Film Bernard H. Dick St. Martins Press 1998

Key Concepts in Cinema Studies Susan Hayward Routledge 1996

Teach Yourself Film Studies Warren Buckland Hodder & Stoughton 1998

Interpreting the Moving Image Noel Carroll Cambridge University Press

The Cinema Book Pam Cook (ed.) BFI 1985


All That Heaven Allows Dir. Douglas Sirk Universal 1955

Being There Dir. Hal Ashby 1979

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