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.

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1 Comment

  1.   Rosie Said:

    on February 13, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Why do you claim that Marylee’s destiny is pathetic?

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