When many of us think about movie melodramas, the first names that come to mind are titans of Hollywood’s golden age, directors (Douglas Sirk, Nicholas Ray, Vincente Minnelli, George Cukor) and stars (Lillian Gish, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis) alike. But the melodrama is by no means a distinctly American or mid-century genre, having laid its roots during the silent era (in the work of D. W. Griffith, Erich von Stroheim, F. W. Murnau) before flowering in Japan (Kenji Mizoguchi, Mikio Naruse), Italy (Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini), England (David Lean), and elsewhere. Indeed, the careers of many key filmmakers of modern cinema have been predicated on radical reinterpretations of the form, as in the work of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Pedro Almodóvar, Todd Haynes, Leos Carax, Lars von Trier, Wong Kar Wai, and Guy Maddin. This series pays tribute to the genre that boldly endeavored to put emotion on screen in its purest form, featuring classics from the silent era and Hollywood’s Golden Age to major mid-century films from around the world to modern dramas and subversive postmodern incarnations. Bring tissues.
Organized by Florence Almozini, Dennis Lim, and Tyler Wilson.
Academy Film Archive; China Film Archive; Cineteca di Bologna; Filmoteca UNAM; Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía (IMCINE); Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (Argentina); Istituto Luce Cinecittà; Japan Foundation; Library of Congress; The Museum of Modern Art; National Audiovisual Institute (Finland); UCLA Film & Television Archive; Richard Suchenski, Center for Moving Image Art at Bard College; Mark Rappaport; Stacey Steers; Ming Wong
Download the series brochure or pick one up at our theaters. On The Close-Up, programmers Florence Almozini, Dennis Lim, and Tyler Wilson recently sat down with the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Editorial Director Michael Koresky to talk about the genre’s history, its relevance today, and some of the series’ hidden gems. Listen below or subscribe in iTunes.
Among the most expressive movies ever made, melodramas of the silent era allowed actors to emote with astonishingly direct purity.
Hollywood's Golden Age
From the thirties to the late fifties, the studios regularly produced melodramas of forthright emotion, the most exquisite of which were made by such practitioners of the genre as Leo McCarey, Vincente Minnelli, Nicholas Ray, Douglas Sirk, and others.
Get an eclectic sampling of melodramas from around the world, which run the gamut from minor-key to overheated, and hail from fourteen different countries, including China, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Italy, Japan, and more.
New Restoration · Introduction by scholar Udaya Kumar on November 2This soul-shattering classic of Indian cinema combines searing imagery, joltingly expressionistic sound design, and an extraordinary central performance from Supriya Choudhury as a relentlessly self-sacrificing daughter supporting her ungrateful family.
The melodrama is still being made around the world today, whether as restrained contemporary dramas of repressed love or as deconstructed, more meta-cinematic works that play off the history of the genre—sometimes in the same film.
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