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Far from Heaven

Far from Heaven

Glyn Davis
Series: American Indies
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Far from Heaven
    Book Description:

    Nominated for four Oscars, Far from Heaven earned rave reviews and won widespread cultural and critical recognition. A knowing and emotionally involving homage to the films of Douglas Sirk, this film is a key text in the canon of American independent cinema. This book offers a detailed and perceptive study of Haynes' film, with each chapter centred on a topic crucial for understanding Far from Heaven's richness and seductive pleasures (authorship, melodrama, queerness). The film is also positioned in relation to the rest of Todd Haynes' work, the New Queer Cinema movement, and the history of US independent cinema.Key Features* Introduces queer theory, and applies insights from the field to Far from Heaven.* Explores the changing meaning and form of independent film in the US.* Tackles the spectatorship issues surrounding retrospective viewing and rereading of classical Hollywood film.* Written by a leading authority on Todd Haynes.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4702-6
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Series Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    Towards the end of Todd Haynes’s Far from Heaven (2002), Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid) comes home unexpectedly early. Sitting in the living room of the immaculate suburban home he shares with his family, he begins to cry, then makes a confession to his wife Cathy (Julianne Moore): ‘I’ve fallen in love with someone, who wants to be with me.’ The ‘someone’ is a handsome blond man. ‘I tried so hard to make it go away,’ he stammers to Cathy, referring to his homosexuality. The audience is not surprised – they earlier witnessed Frank’s cruising and seduction of the other chap...

  6. 1. ‘Indie’
    (pp. 8-39)

    One of the main aims of the ‘American Indies’ book series, to which this monograph belongs, is to explore the shifting parameters of ‘independent’ US cinema over the course of the last twenty years. This subject underpins this book, as the discussions in individual chapters are all dedicated to concerns often associated with ‘independence’ in film practice and production: directorial authorship, adherence to/divergence from generic form, political messages and intentions. However, this first chapter will concentrate specifically on the field of American independent cinema, and Far from Heaven’s position within that context. The chapter begins with a short historical overview...

  7. 2. Authorship
    (pp. 40-64)

    Independent cinema is often identified as a realm of production in which directors can have (near to) full control over their own material. In practical terms, this may involve taking on several different roles which, on a big-budget film, would be divided up amongst a team of contributors: writing the script, directing, acting, editing, composing the soundtrack. (On the independent horror film Paranormal Activity (2007), for instance, Oren Peli served as the film’s writer, director, producer, editor and cinematographer, and used his own house as the main shooting location.) Along with the smaller crew working on any independent film, the...

  8. 3. Genre
    (pp. 65-99)

    Compared to all of Todd Haynes’s other films to date, Far from Heaven is the most straightforwardly generic. Assassins (1985) deconstructs the ‘period biopic’, in a manner redolent of Derek Jarman’s film about Caravaggio (1986). As I have argued elsewhere, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987), despite its short running time, is indebted to a range of generic forms, including star biopics, disaster movies, documentary, horror, and ‘disease of the week’ made-for-TV movies.¹ Poison (1991) has three separate narrative strands, each shot in a different idiom. The television short Dottie Gets Spanked (1993), made as part of the PBS series...

  9. 4. Queerness
    (pp. 100-129)

    Throughout the previous chapters of this book, weaving through the explorations of independent cinema, authorship and the genre of melodrama, the subject of homosexuality and queerness has repeatedly surfaced. Observations have been made relating to the politics of sexuality in the film, challenges to cinema authorship made by queer directors, and so on. Due to the inclusion of Frank’s narrative thread in Far from Heaven, and Todd Haynes’s insights regarding the ways in which his sexual orientation influences his filmmaking, it would have been perverse not to devote some space to this topic. And yet, there is a great deal...

  10. Coda
    (pp. 130-132)

    Todd Haynes’s next feature film after Far from Heaven was I’m Not There (2007), in which six different actors play facets of Bob Dylan’s character and history. Haynes had previously had trouble obtaining music rights for his films Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story and Velvet Goldmine; the distribution of the former was blocked by the Carpenter estate for unapproved use of a number of songs, and David Bowie refused to let the director use his music in the latter. Dylan, however, approved the use of his songs in I’m Not There. Made for around $20 million, Haynes’s largest budget to...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 133-140)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 141-150)
  13. Index
    (pp. 151-156)