Wednesday, July 24, 2013

As Long As There Are People (Douglas Sirk, 1959)

Yes, that's Imitation of Life under the English translation of its German title, Solange es Menschen gibt and if there's gotta be an alternative title, then let it be one that captures Sirk's pessimism so perfectly.

But check out the DVD cover:
Ok professionalism is clearly not on the menu. The chap on the right is John Gavin, the film's ostensible love interest/Rock Hudson placeholder. But he's mentioned nowhere on the cover. Even more damning, chap on the left (Dan O'Herlihy) is a character so vestigial that I had to wiki him despite having seen the film two nonillion times. Beyond mere sloppiness, then, it's clear that the cover reveals how much the designer balked at Sirk's radical vision. Not only does it ignore the film's exploration of the inequities experienced by its African-American characters, Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore) and her daughter Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner), it attempts to juice a non-existent heteronormative triangle from the much more central feminine collective of Lora (Lana Turner), Susie (Sandra Dee), and Sarah Jane that remains at the end. Even in the digital era, Sirk is still picking at the scabs of the bourgeoisie.



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