‘Ideological contradiction is the overt mainspring and specific content of melodrama’.

• Essay question is:
‘Ideological contradiction is the overt mainspring and specific content of melodrama’ (Mulvey 1977, 75). Using All that Heaven Allows film and its representation of class and gender, assess Mulvey’s assertion.

The answer must be typed in 12pt 1.5 line spaced and have numbered pages.
Essays must be 2,500 words in length.


Laura Mulvey (1977) ‘Notes on Sirk and Melodrama’ in Christine Gledhill (ed.) (1987) Home is Wghere the Heart is: Studies in Melodrama and the Woman’s Film, London: BFI, pp. 75-82.

E. Ann Kaplan (1992) Motherhood and Representation: the Mother in Popular Culture and Melodrama, London: Routledge

• Jackie Byars (1991) All that Hollywood Allows: Re-reading Gender in 1950s Melodrama London: Routledge

• Christine Geldhill (1987) Home is where the Heart is: Studies in Melodrama and the Woman’s Film, London: BFI

• Christine Gledhill (2000) ‘Rethinking genre’ in Gledhill and Williams (eds) Reinventing Film Studies, London: Hodder Arnold

• Roger D. McNiven (1983) ‘The middle-class American home of the fifties: The use of architecture in Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life and Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows’, Cinema Journal, 22 (4)

You must use these 5 references, and if you use them correctly they will be enough, but you can also use other more references if you would like.
So, you have to discuss the issues that the film talked about like gender, class, and role of women from these readers.

Here are further questions that will help you in writing the essay:

1- In line with the idea that melodramas are ‘women’s films’, it might be argued that Cary (Jayne Wyman) provides the dominant POV and central source of identification. How does the film work to achieve this?

2- How important are colour and lighting in All that heaven allows? Do they serve to generate affect and emotion in the film?

3- The construction of home through mise-en-sence is central to the Sirkian system. How far do the homes Sirk constructs in All that heaven allows generate meaning about class (a key narrative concern) in the film?

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