by Renata Kobetts Miller
Mélodrames” de Pixerécourt (in French)
Edited by: Lemaire (Marion), Martin (Roxane), Melai (Maurizio)
This volume presents a critical edition of three melodramas (La Citerne, Marguerite d’Anjou, The Ruins of Babylon), accompanied by their original stage music.
One Evening in Mayotte
By: Lee Haring
Marvels and Tales 32.1
Making the local women his concubines is not only a wink at the men listening. The move also links to the narrator’s final story, which begins with an argument about them between Kôto and his jealous wife: “I warn you, Kôto, you have mistresses, you’re not a good husband. Can you marry the whole village? I want some explanations, Kôto!” The teller now reveals the ending he will use: “Kôto-finally the king’s daughter is going to kill him, he’s not aware of the situation.” Already we are in a different genre. Even when they tell the most familiar trickster tales, African, Malagasy, and Mahorais storytellers never give away the endings. The switch in genre is worthy of Kôto himself: to launch his final story (over 4,000 words long), he will narrate in a different genre. He adapts into the trickster context the conspiring schemes and vituperative dialogue of screen melodrama, film noir in particular. Generically no doubt, the Philip Marlowe or Maigret of film, ever marginal, ever the social critic, is a descendant of trickster (Paulme 33). Perhaps some zealous cinéaste will uncover a specific source for this part of the Mahorais tale; one could look in the combination of pessimism and romance of the Popular Front films, or the dialogue style of post-World War Two thrillers by Henri-Georges Clouzot or Yves Allégret. But even without a specific source text, the Hakoa narrator shows great skill, in the middle of a religious celebration, in adapting cinematic dialogue and character relations to a solo performance. Is his genre switch anti-traditional? Hardly: in Mayotte, the frequent language-mixing sets the model for genre-mixing in verbal art.
Space and Place in Alejandro Galindo’s 1950 Film Adaptation of Benito Pérez Galdós’s Doña Perfecta (1876)
By: Rhian Davies
Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 95:4
In his 1950 film adaptation of Galdós’s 1876 novel Doña Perfecta the Mexican director Alejandro Galindo transferred the action from the imaginary Spanish city of Orbajosa to Santa Fe in Mexico. To date critics have focussed largely upon assessing the ‘Mexicanism’ of the film, coming to the conclusion that the film, like the novel, is an overblown melodrama. This article will now pay close attention to the artistic qualities of the film, specifically its use of space and place, and will seek to demonstrate how Galindo, responding as a reader of Galdós’s novel, produces a work that not only invites new ways of reading Doña Perfecta but also highlights its timelessness and universality.
“The Makings of a Contradictory Franchise: Revolutionary Melodrama and Cynicism in The Hunger Games”
By: Joe Tompkins
JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies
This article examines The Hunger Games franchise (THG) as a case study for how capitalist media cynically mobilize revolutionary desire as a commercial strategy. It integrates ideology critique and media-industry analysis to examine THG as a melodramatic fantasy that, on the one hand, bids spectators to enjoy the act of desiring class revolution in the films while, on the other hand, deploying various textual and paratextual strategies that invite audiences to be cynical about such desire. As such, THG epitomizes the contradictions of spectacular “revolution”: asking viewers to simultaneously buy into and deconstruct the mediated pleasures of class war.
Spectral Spectacle: Traps, Disappearances, and Disembodiment in Nineteenth-Century British Melodrama
by: Eliza Dickinson Urban
Abstract: Two nineteenth-century melodramas, J.R. Planché’s The Vampire (1820) and Dion Boucicault’s The Corsican Brothers (1852) exert a haunting influence on how we in the present conceptualise ghosts. Through rendering the seemingly invisible – that is, the ghostly body – spectacular through technology, while simultaneously concealing the mechanism behind that feat, the plays’ eponymous traps heighten the effect of the spectral even as their workings elude visual perception. My study elucidates the mediation of the traps through other facets of production. To accomplish this task, I undertake a phenomenological inquiry into the play’s sound, lighting, and scene design via an examination of the plays’ production materials as well as modern reconstructions of the traps. The sensory signifiers associated with the traps, including musical motifs and lighting cues, linger in the public consciousness even when the technology behind them has been rendered obsolete by later technological iterations.
A Day Workshop
UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY
Friday 28 September, 2018
In the media ecology of the new century, one of the ongoing success stories has been the rise and rise of scripted television – as a serious medium for ideas and debate, and as a space for developing new formal and generic schemas. Derided in the postwar decades for its formulaic and hidebound stories, and for being subject to constraints by censors and advertisers alike, television is now regularly raised above both film and theatre as the dramatic art form par excellence. The reasons for this gradual, yet none the less surprising, turnaround are numerous and well documented: the mushrooming of cable companies and subscription services; the widespread availability of file-sharing platforms; the popularity of the DVD boxed set (in the 2000s) and of streaming services (in the 2010s); the decision of content providers to become content producers (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime); and the increasing affordability of flatscreen TV sets and digital projectors.
As well as the economic logic underpinning the cable TV ascendancy, there are sound creative reasons for why producers, writers and directors might seek the freedom of long- form serial drama and comedy, rather than the self-contained, episodic model that still characterises network television. This freedom has been especially gratifying for the screenwriter. Often treated as expendable, or at least as subordinate, by the major film studios, in the cable TV context the writer now assumes the mantle of auteur (elevated to the creative-managerial position of ‘showrunner’), whilst the director is treated as a replaceable and near-anonymous gun-for-hire. This shifting of priorities has resulted in a more ‘literary’ and challenging medium. With its distinctively idiomatic dialogue, finely calibrated plot intricacies, and layering of story- and character-arcs, sometimes across several seasons, serial television has come to resemble nothing so much as the multi- volume novel.
The proposed workshop seeks to reflect further on these changes undergone by the medium, with a close examination of the millennial wave of TV shows (c. 1997 – present) that have contributed to the new environment. If ‘TV is the new novel’, as is often claimed, how do any of these shows underwrite, advance or contest the notion of ‘broadcast literature’ described above? Has the incursion of ‘literary values’, real or perceived, into what was once considered to be a sub-literate medium been an unequivocal good? Alternately, has ‘broadcast literature’ affected the ways that traditional (print) literature is written, interpreted, consumed?
If you are interested in exploring the literary attributes or implications of creator-driven television and would like to contribute to the workshop – with either a 15-20 min paper, or some clips framed by topics for discussion – please send an expression of interest by 8 July: 3-4 sentences outlining what you would like to speak on, and a brief bionote, to:
Enquiries can also be sent to this address.
Attendees will be asked to register in advance, but there is no registration fee. Catering (lunch) will be provided.
Organisers: A/Prof Paul Sheehan (Macquarie University) / Blythe Worthy (University of Sydney)
by Alice Mikal Craven
in Visible and Invisible Whiteness : American White Supremacy Through the Cinematic Lens
A comparative analysis of the 1934 John M. Stahl film Imitation of Life and émigré director Douglas Sirk’s 1959 version allows for a more precise definition of how visible and invisible whiteness can be defined and represented in the cinema. The chapter argues that by looking at Stahl’s decisions concerning the generic structures he uses throughout the film, the visibility of whiteness that dominates in the first half of the film is rendered invisible by changing the guiding genre of the film from melodrama to romantic comedy halfway through the film. The chapter equally argues that Sirk’s focus on “the colored angle” allows for a different perspective on cinematic representations of white supremacy.