Imitation of Life "1959"
Douglas Sirk's 1959 remake of John Stahl's 1934 film, Imitation of Life, is a parody of the original. In a comical rendition, Imitation of Life, addresses intersections of race, social and economic class, and gender in the film, as well as existing stereotypes, through the use of Neo-Brechtian gestik acting which means over-the-top, melodramatic and campy acting that is quoting a character and his/her emotions and exaggerates the role of a character in a situation. Sirk deliberately wanted to use gestik acting and avoided method acting (acting out what your emotions would really be, if you were in a certain situation) because he didn't want audiences to think that this film was real and to be taken seriously.
Two single-parenting mothers, Annie and Lora meet on the beach of Coney Island, in search of Lora's daughter Suzie. When Lora and Suzie find out that Annie and her daughter Sara Jane are homeless, Lora decides to let them live in her apartment as long as Annie agrees to contribute some help around the house, and do the dirty work for Lora. Annie is depicted as a parody for blackness, just because she has typical attributes of any nanny. A loving, nurturing, understanding, and caring mother is the stereotypical mother that society adores which is played out by Annie. On the other hand Lora is a neglecting figure in the eyes of Suzie. Annie is more like the mother for Suzie, but not Sara Jane. Sara Jane refuses to admit that she a daughter to a black woman and passes as a white girl while in school. Sara Jane fires up the racial tension in this film because of her denial and mistreatment towards her mother.
Lora meets a man named Steve, who almost right away, proposes to her. She denies the proposal in an effort to pursue her dream of becoming a Hollywood actress. Steve tries to make her stay, by telling her that she doesn't have to work, and that he will bring home to money. This shows us how Steve along with the majority of society view women and their roles of life. A women's life should be to stay home, clean, take care of the kids, and put dinner on the table, which is the old fashion way that much of male Americans viewed women to perform in. Opposite roles of gender for the male figure in this film was shown through Steve, who has found a detective out of now where, who has found Sara Jane and her place of refuge from her mother. This situation renders Steve as if he were Superman, the one being able to fix any problem.
This campy imitation of life is viewed throughout most of the film, except for the scene of Annie's funeral, where Mahalia Jackson sings a gospel song. Eulogy of Annie is brought to her through the singing voice of Mahalia. This scene is supposed to be a serious one among the other witty scenes, because the character of Mahalia is the only realistic one in this film and is not to be criticized. Mahalia does not exemplify the overly dramatic acting.
Run Time: 2hrs 4min
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