Visual Style in 'All That Heaven Allows'

1071 Words5 Pages
Focusing on one of the films screened in the first four weeks of the subject, produce a detailed analysis of the role that visual style plays in communicating the ideas, themes, and issues raised by the film. Douglas Sirk’s 1955 melodrama All That Heaven Allows utilizes visual style to convey his opinions regarding the themes portrayed. Sirk manipulates the mise-en-scene to work around the limitations of the Hay’s Code and present his own views on the key themes of class and gender expectations. Sirk employs a combination of colour, contrast and framing to communicate his ideas. Sirk uses colour to define paradigms and redefine ideas through the lighting and costuming decisions made. There is a clear polarization of red and blue throughout the film, which conveys not only emotional intensity but a dichotomy of classes. Red and orange create an inviting authenticity to scenes which represent or display the middle-class way of life while blues signify the removed lifestyle of the wealthy. The tone and shade of the colours give a clear indication of Sirk’s views of this theme, with the warm, inviting reds conveying comfort and joy contrasting starkly with the bright, cold blues which place Cary’s highbrow society in a harsh perspective. The lighting is often hued more than the props in the scene, with artificial blues bathing scenes in Cary’s mansion home and the clubhouse. This blue emphasises Cary’s discontent and disconnection with her society and by choosing to light a location in blue rather than simply employ blue props or clothes, Sirk demonstrates the encompassing severity of upper-class life and his own disdain for not only the materialistic aspects of this wealth but the atmosphere and attitudes as well. The costuming does on occasion follow this pattern of polarized colouring, most significantly in the opening scene where Cary is dressed in grey. The
Open Document