Revisiting Film Melodrama brings forth pioneering French and English-speaking approaches from internationally known experts as well as by young researchers, aiming to broaden the research area through new historical and aesthetic perspectives. Indeed, film melodrama has too often been under-estimated, most surveys having essentially focused on the audience’s emotions and on excessive representations, often neglecting the complexities of the «melodramatic mode». More than ever, melodrama as film genre requires a comprehensive, multi-layered re-appraisal which includes references to the genre at work on television, animation and the internet.
Introduction (Christine Gledhill)
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University of Sunderland
This collection of essays addresses melodrama in its remarkable temporal, geographic and generic diversity. It bears witness to melodrama’s long endurance over time, adapting to changing socio-historical circumstances and interconnecting past and present, tradition and modernity. It highlights a mutability that enabled nineteenth-century melodramatic practice to draw from and find realization in a range of cultural forms and social arenas, from narrative genre painting, popular music, classic and serial fiction to cinema and now television. Finally, the volume focuses melodrama’s transnationality, emerging and travelling between the industrializing countries of nineteenth-century Europe and America and now claimed within different national-cultural formations beyond the West. So despite its relegation through the first decades of the twentieth century to the margins of cultural criticism (if not of entertainment practices) as ‘old-fashioned’ and ideologically pernicious, melodrama is now displacing the long reign of realism as term of critical choice to account for a diversity of screen genres. Such longevity and transnationality of a mutable popular form asks what kind of phenomenon it represents. What conclusions can we draw from the diversity of topics and approaches collected in this volume? What critical models and concepts do we need to grasp its mutability? Above all, if melodrama has become a critical term of choice, what is it now enabling us to see, to talk about? Three areas of discussion emerge. First the concepts of modality and genre; second the uses of historicization;...
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