Archive for December, 2010

Analysis 2: Written on the Wind

Written on the Wind is a typical family film directed by Douglas Sirk and distributed by Universal International Pictures in 1956. The storyline is based on Robert Wilber’s same name novel written in 1945. The film illustrates a story about Mitch Wayne, Kyle Hadley, Kyle’s sister Marrylee Hadley, and Lucy Moore. Mitch is an excellent geologist of the Hadley Oil Company. He is the best friend of Kyle and Marrylee since childhood. Mitch and Kyle both fall in love with the executive secretary Lucy. Mitch chooses to hide his feeling to Lucy after Kyle expresses his love to her. On the other hand, Marrylee hopes to marry Mitch, but he only treats her as a brother. The story ends up with Kyle was killed by himself when he tries to shoot Mitch. Marry testifies Mitch is innocent in the inquest. Eventually, Mitch and Lucy both leave Marry to run the company alone. Sirk uses explicit color system to contrast the different characteristics of each character, especially to address the fear of Kyle to his sterile and the wild personality of Marrylee. This can be found in the scene where Klye hits Lucy in this bedroom and Marrylee threatens Mitch to marry her.
Kyle is confident playboy when he pursues Lucy. For a year after their marriage Kyle stops drinking and become more responsibly, until he notices his weakness of having a baby from Doctor Paul Cochrane. Kyle’s dressing is changed from vivid to plain, and his bedroom decoration is connected to white while other places of the house have brilliant color. The plain colors (most likely white) are related to disease and death as well as the atmosphere in a hospital. This also symbolizes Kyle’s physical “weakness” and his motional frustration. In the later scene, Kyle’s fear is developed into anger and jealousy to Mitch who always does a better job on whatever Kyle does. The color of Kyle foreshadows his death at the end of the film. Comparing the color of Marrylee, Sirk uses red and pink to express her wild personality. Marrylee is in a pink dress most of the time. She always drives her red car to flirt guys, and her bedroom even has tons of red roses and a red blanket sheet. The red and pink color indicates love, passion, desire, violence, and danger of the film. In facts, Marrylee is the person who makes Kyle to believe that Lucy cheats with Mitch. Marrylee’s ambitious love to Mitch directly leads Kyle’s death at the end. Sirk puts Marrylee in the last screen with a formal lady suit crying alone in her dad’s office to show her pathetic destiny.


Additionally, the film has a lot of splendid dialogs to describe the characters personalities. For instance, in the scene where Kyle had lunch with Lucy in Club 21, Lucy does not want to tell Kyle where she comes from by excusing a small town in Indiana. Kyle replies that “Any time you ask me, I’ll put it on the map.” This dialog highlights Kyle’s sense of humor and gives an impression of playboy to the audiences. In contrast, Mitch asks Lucy that “Are you looking for laughs? Or are you soul searching?” when she is kind of exciting on the trip with Kyle. Mitch judges Lucy that her feeling to Kyle is superficial understanding. This shows that Mitch resents introducing her to Kyle, and it implies that Mitch also falls in love with Lucy by showing his disappointment.


Consider the strict censorship of film in United States in 1950s, Sirk symbolizes a lot of moral problems such as race and class issues into Written on the Wind. His special cinematography gives audiences an impressive understanding to the characters in the film and relate them in the real life.

Written on the Wind

An alcoholic playboy Kyle and his wayward sister Marrylee are the children of Texas oil baron Jasper Hadley. They spend their childhood with their best friend Mitch Wayne. Marrylee loves Mitch since she was young, but Mitch only loves her as brother. Occasionally, Mitch meets the executive secretary Lucy Moore in the office while her boss Bill Ryan was out if town in New York. Mitch invites Lucy to join the conference and introduces her to Kyle in club 21. Kyle soon falls in love with the charming lady, and he brings her to Miami Beach persistently. Kyle prepares a decent hotel for Lucy, but she does not like Kyle just throw money to her. She leaves from the hotel and take the fight back to New York. Kyle stops her in the last minute and apologize his rush. Kyle expresses his passion to Lucy carefully and meaningfully to touch Lucy so that they get married in two weeks. Meanwhile, Mitch resents introducing Lucy to Kyle because he also falls in love with the same woman. However, Mitch hides his love for his best friend.


On the other hand, Marrylee becomes self-destructive and fools around with random guys after so many she is rejected by Mitch. She hates his brother because she thinks Kyle takes Mitch into work after they grow up. She gossips to Kyle that Lucy has love affair with Mitch when Kyle is in mourning about his weakness of having a child. This makes Kyle thinks his wife cheats with his best friend after he knows Lucy’s pregnancy. As a result, drunken Kyle intends to shoot Mitch but he shoots himself while Marry tries to stop him in the windy night. Mitch is charged for murder. Marrylee threatens Mitch to marry her. Otherwise, she will testify him. Mitch rejects Marry again and sticks with his love to Lucy. Marrylee eventually tells the truth in the inquest. At the end of the film, Mitch leaves with Lucy, and Marrylee runs the company alone.


I feel the film is full of misunderstand and misfortune among Mitch, Kyle, and Lucy. Kyle is jealous to Mitch because Mitch can do much better than whatever Kyle does. Kyle thinks he is small in his father eyes because of Mitch’s ability. This not too strong until they both fall in love with the same woman. I enjoy the story gives audience a suspended interest at the beginning which shows Kyle’s death. I was wondering how Kyle would be eventually killed but actually he kills himself. The storyline regularly happens that Mitch tells Lucy about his secret love to her, and they fall in love at the end. However, I think it is kind of ironic that Lucy was so strictly to stay with Kyle but then she falls into Mitch so quick at the end without showing much about her sadness to her husband’s death. I also feel that relationship usually has higher priority than friendship. This might be always true to everyone.

Breathless

Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is a petty thief who steals cars for life. After stealing a car in Marseille, he kills a policeman who follows him on the way to Paris. While Michel is collecting money from the buyer, he meets Patricia (Jean Seberg), an American student and journalist, who sells the New York Herald Tribune on the street. He soon falls in love with her and asks her to escape with him to Italy. Patricia is hesitating to make a decision in the entire film. After she learns Michel’s crime background, she eventually calls the detective and threatens him to leave before the police arrive. Michel chooses to give up his escape and dies after the police shoot him in the street.


This is a typical film talks about the decision of choosing between love and reality. Michel has nothing but he still persistently chase Patricia with his best offer. I feel sorry for Michel because people usually do not accept this kind of love in realistic, and such happy ending could only happen in dramas. Thus, I most likely can tell Michel’s pity ending when I see Patricia’s hesitate. The ironic ending leaves audience to think how they identify true love. Perhaps, Michel should use his passion to change his life before he pursues Patricia. That might be a completely different result. However, the fate does not allow Michel to have much time to realize his failure and start everything all over again.


Besides the plot and thoughts of the film, I enjoy the screening of the street of Paris in 1900s. As an Asian student, I am surprise how western countries had been well-developed in many decades ago. The gorgeous buildings and orderly arrangement of street basically look like the same as nowadays. I also see the western culture is well inherited from the fashion of dressing in the past. The brilliant city gives a contrast Michel’s miserable life and makes me feel more sympathetic to those frustrated people as him.

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