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Allan King's A Married Couple

Allan King's A Married Couple

Series: Canadian Cinema
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 144
  • Book Info
    Allan King's A Married Couple
    Book Description:

    The fifth volume in the Canadian Cinema series, this work is an accessible and engaging introduction to a controversial film and its fascinating director.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9403-3
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    These reactions to Allan King’s filmA Married Couplegive some sense of the controversy it excited among filmgoers and critics when it was released in 1969. The film, stemming from King’s interest in the tendency of intimacy towards dysfunction, reverberated with wider cultural concerns about candid cameras in the domestic sphere. Made with the Edwards family of Toronto over the summer of 1968, the film challenged ideas about the clear separation between documentary and fiction while highlighting the performative aspect of private life.

    Although the idea of recording and exposing ordinary life is arguably a foundational part of the...

  5. 2 Observational Feature Filmmaking and the ‘Dramaturgical Perspective’
    (pp. 15-34)

    In 1967 Allan King, a thirty-seven-year-old Canadian filmmaker with more than a decade of filmmaking experience, releasedWarrendale, a study of a halfway house for emotionally disturbed children and adolescents in North Toronto.¹ King resisted all narration in the film, leaving viewers to decide for themselves what they thought about the therapeutic methods employed with the children, especially a technique of restraint used to placate them when they were agitated. The result is an exceptionally powerful film and, despite being banned by commissioning network, CBC,Warrendaleattained a number of honours, among them the Prix Art et Essai at Cannes....

  6. 3 A Married Couple as Documentary Melodrama
    (pp. 35-60)

    From its opening credits,A Married Couplesignals both its authenticity and its ambiguity. Without narration or explanatory text, the credits both claim the subject’s ‘reality’ and refuse to label the finished product as either documentary or fiction, calling it simply ‘a film’:

    A Married Couple

    Billy and Antoinette Edwards

    Their child Bogart

    Their dog Merton

    In a film by Allan King

    The fact of real people as actors is presented simultaneously with the authorial stamp of the filmmaker. The phrase ‘a married couple’ thus takes on a descriptive aspect regarding the Edwardses and at the same time becomes the...

  7. 4 Promotion and Reception
    (pp. 61-72)

    As discussed in the last chapter, the combination of observational footage and crafted narrative makeA Married Coupleinto a remarkable and unrepeatable achievement. It sparked a good deal of discussion, and no small amount of controversy, when it was released in the fall of 1969.

    With a budget of more than $200,000,A Married Couplewas not a cheap film by Canadian standards. Aquarius Films, King’s production company, made a concerted attempt to market the film, spending an additional $30,000. Advertisements featuring a posed photograph of the Edwards family semi-clad, a naked Bogart front and centre and a tasteful...

  8. 5 Imitation of Life? Towards a Theory of Documentary Mimesis
    (pp. 73-84)

    In a 1984 statement about the controversy over his filmWho’s in Charge?, ‘More Muddy Morals: A Reply to Critics,’ King wrote, ‘[artists and journalists] take in the experiences of other people (their lives, if you will), we chew them over, digest them, grunt and groan, and finally produce them in some formed expression. Now that describes something a lot more serious than voyeurism or manipulation. You could call it cannibalism.’¹ In making a film with and about real people, the dialogic aspect of cultural production – or cannibalism, if you will – is front and centre. The final film is not...

  9. 6 Conclusion: The Legacy of A Married Couple
    (pp. 85-90)

    In many ways a highly successful Canadian film,A Married Couplesuffered rebuffs similar to those later experienced byAn American Family. Jeffrey Ruoff points out that ‘many critics failed to make distinctions between representation and reality’ and that commentators were quick to locate the show within the despised ‘therapeutic society thriving on “compulsion to confess.’’’¹ Jean Baudrillard discussesAn American Familyat length inSimulations. It is his privileged object of description, characterized as the ‘the liturgical drama of a mass society.’² Because the American series was a combination of observational documentary and aspirational TV family familiar from situation...

  10. Production Credits
    (pp. 91-92)
  11. Further Viewing
    (pp. 93-94)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 95-104)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 105-106)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 107-107)