Mute men and melodramatic renewal: the meaning of speechless faces in The Edge of Heaven and The Son
MetadataShow full item record
Stewart, M. (2014) Mute men and melodramatic renewal: the meaning of speechless faces in The Edge of Heaven and The Son, Studies in European Cinema, vol. 11, , pp. 92-105,
This article examines melodrama and developments in narrative cinema. In particular, it considers the diminution of words in the sub-genre termed transient pathetic melodrama. The article's main focus is The Son (2002) and The Edge of Heaven (2007). These films, the article argues, share features which also distinguish them from North American melodramas: An intensification and dispersal of affective elements; a greater focus on central, mediating faces; and a stronger re-orientation to re-oedipalisation. The article notes how theorists attempt to distance The Son from melodrama, in ways which are familiar and contradictory. Instead of characterising The Son as anti-sentimental, the article argues, it is better understood as a play on various investments, and a movement, at one level, between the psychological and the psychic. The article argues that The Son and The Edge of Heaven engender a witnessing mode which opens a space for ethical learning and reflection. The article examines this mode in some detail, considering its evidence in both films via specific uses of wordless faces. In this way, it is argued that the films continue melodrama's desire to make social trauma and injustice visible via the psychic, but exhibit this in new ways which also give form to historical change.