Race and Authenticity: A Film Study on Douglas Sirkā€™s Imitation of Life

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-02-10 17:27Z by Steven

Race and Authenticity: A Film Study on Douglas Sirkā€™s Imitation of Life

Drunk Monkeys

Ilari Pass

Image Ā© Universal Pictures

ā€œItā€™s a sin to be ashamed of what you are.ā€
ā€”Annie Johnson, Imitation of Life

Literature helps the reader travel inside the skin of the characterā€”the mystery of another human beingā€”and this understanding unsettles the readerā€™s received notion about the ā€˜other,ā€™ a person who might be otherwise judged. The same can be applied to studying a film, allowing us to enhance our appreciation of subject matter that depicts a range of human experience by carefully looking at the artistic systems, such as cinematography, lighting, costume, and acting, that produce a rich and textured work of art. Douglas Sirkā€™s 1959 melodramatic film Imitation of Life, which depicts the lives of four different people living in a world that is beyond their control, is a film that operates at the level of art. The first half of the film deals with a question from a feminism perspective, about what it means to be a woman living in a male-dominated society, and the second half addresses the perspective of how women of color are affected by racism. It is a story about imitating, pretending to be something that isnā€™t true. However, what is true is what the characters literally seeā€”gender and raceā€”something no one can walk away from…

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