Filmmaker Todd Haynes has claimed that his films do not create cultural artifacts so much as appropriate and recombine the ones that audiences think they already know (MacDonald 2009, 57). This approach seems particularly true of the films in which Haynes puts the woman at the center of a melodrama—the genre traditionally associated with feminine sensibilities.1 He self-consciously returns to generic touchstones like Mildred Pierce and Far From Heaven, for example, to explore the effects of the Motion Picture Production Code prohibitions and the paternal authority on which the classical woman’s film relied (Superstar and Safe).2 How many of the familiar tropes of the “woman’s film” have made their way into today’s film culture? What anxieties persist in a genre that now has so much appeal precisely for its liberation from yesterday’s film culture?
Belau, Linda and Cameron, Ed, "Melodrama, Sickness, and Paranoia: Todd Haynes and the Woman’s Film" (2016). Literatures and Cultural Studies Faculty Publications and Presentations. 3.
Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal