Oct 28

“Written in the Wind” is the epitome of what a melodrama is all about.  The definition of a melodrama is a dramatic work, which exaggerates the plot and characters in order to appeal to one’s emotions.  Director Douglas Sirk production of “Written in the Wind” exemplifies how a melodrama should be made.  This movie contains many features of a melodrama; some of which include love, despair, backstabbing, and death.  “Written in the Wind” ushers in a new type of film genre (melodramas) while dismissing another type of film genre (film noir). “Written in the Wind” utilized two elements in the movie that was considered revolutionary at the time. One of the elements was the exaggerated use of colors, and the other was the use of high key lighting.

“Written in the Wind” portrays the stories of four different people. These four people are Kyle, Marylee, Mitch Wayne, and Lucy Moore.  Kyle, who is the heir to the Hadley oil empire, is a spoiled, and dangerous alcoholic.  Kyle meets Lucy Moore, an executive secretary.  He charms her so much that they end up getting married.  They seem to be very happy initially and Kyle had stopped drinking.  Problems arise between Kyle and Lucy, after his doctor tells Kyle that he has a low sperm count.  When Kyle hears this, he keeps it a secret from Lucy, and begins to drink again, and becomes depressed.

Kyle’s sister, Marylee like her brother, is spoiled and an alcoholic.  She also has a bad reputation around the town for propositioning men.  Marylee is in love with Mitch Wayne. Mitch has no desires to be in a relationship with her, and this is her excuse for acting the way that she does.

Mitch Wayne, a geologist for the Hadley oil company, is Kyle’s best friend; Mitch keeps the Hadley family in order.  Mitch Wayne is in love with Lucy, but he keeps it a secret because she’s his best friend’s wife.  Mitch even contemplates leaving the oil company and working for another company, because of his love for Lucy.

Everything starts to take a turn for the worst when Kyle and Marylee’s father has a heart attack and dies.  When the father heard his daughter is with a gas attendant in a motel and that Kyle is drinking again, it is too much for him to bear and his heart gives out.  Another bad situation that occurs is when Kyle finds out that, Lucy is pregnant, and hits her because he thinks its Mitch’s baby, which causes her to have a miscarriage.  Mitch runs to help Lucy and threatens to kill Kyle.  Later that evening, Kyle gets his father’s gun and threatens to kill Mitch, Marylee wrestles Kyle for the gun, and while wrestling for control of the gun, the trigger is pulled and Kyle is killed.  Mitch is accused of murdering Kyle and has to stand trial.  Marylee acts in a way that is not characteristic of her behavior throughout the story, she acts with compassion, and tells the true story of what happened to her brother.  Mitch is exonerated of all charges, and drives off with Lucy, while Marylee is seen sitting by herself.

There are many different elements that are present in this film that are not demonstrated during the film noir period; these elements include the use of bright colors and high key lighting in the film.  During the film noir period, the films utilized elements of darkness with low-key lighting, and the use of shadows was exhibited.  In this film there is a shift in directorial technique, utilizing elements such as high key lighting.   All the characters are well lit and there is no evidence of any shadows on them.

A key directorial technique used in this film is the vibrant colors presented throughout the film.  Sirk took full advantage of the Technicolor film that was available to him.  Many different colors like red and yellow are seen in this movie. The color yellow is used primarily to show Marylee’s car, and the color red is obvious in many scenes to show objects such as seats, table clothes, men’s ties, walls of the hotel room (that Kyle and Lucy stayed in), drinks, and telephones.  In this movie, as opposed to the other movies introduced to the class are number African-American actors.  The African Americans actors present in this movie are the roles of low paying jobs that don’t require higher education such as a bartender, gatekeeper, and butler.

“Written in the Wind” does a wonderful job in defining a melodramatic film.  The film demonstrates a significant characteristic of a melodramatic movie, namely an exaggerated story line with many different emotions being portrayed throughout the film.  Douglas Sirk does an amazing job of directing and utilizes many other important elements such as high key lighting and use of many colors.  Which was considered revolutionary at that time and truly enhanced the movie.

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