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.
Ethnography, Melodrama, Multiculturalism: Atanarjuat – The Fast Runner (Jean Bruce)
← 304 | 305 → Ethnography, Melodrama, Multiculturalism: Atanarjuat – The Fast Runner
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (Zacharius Kunuk, 2000) is based on several versions of an Inuit legend concerning the community of Igloolik, Nunavit.1 These stories were compiled, distilled and somewhat modified for the screen by the film’s director and producers.2 At first glance, Atanarjuat is not a film that would seem to fit the established conventions of melodrama. Indeed, most authors have positioned the film within visual and oral ethnography and have analysed it according to the sub-discipline’s various historical practices and contemporary interventions. Atanarjuat is a complex, auto-ethnographic film in keeping with what Michelle Raheja describes as a “creative act of ← 305 | 306 → self-representation”.3 Reading it as a melodrama, however, recasts the film’s auto-ethnographic discourse and allows us to examine the implications of Atanarjuat’s formal and discursive adeptness; these are arguably the film’s most powerful strategies for engaging spectators. And, while the film addresses spectators from a number of perspectives, it is the inclusiveness of the film’s self-commentary on its status as ethnographic cinema that can be directly linked with melodrama. Of Atanarjuat’s many strengths, perhaps the greatest is its capacity to speak to and about several audiences simultaneously. I claim that the film is more than simply enhanced by its relationship with the melodramatic mode. Melodrama highlights the auto-ethnographic intervention of Atanarjuat as a strategy of re-enactment;its manner of challenging traditional ethnographic practices depends on the film’s strategic...
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