Compare 'All That Heaven Allows' to 'Far from Essay

Pages: 5 (1437 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Film  ·  Written: November 26, 2018

The camera pans out to show the pool in full, all the rows of 1950s umbrellas spread open as though everything were so 1950s perfect. Frank who had appeared happy, his white robe half open as flopped down on the recliner to get some sun with his happy wife, exits the scene and is shown in the next cut back in the hotel room, his face less joyous. His gay paramour follows him, appearing in the doorway. They are both wearing a white robe; the young gay man’s is suggestively open and he moves his hand across his chest and down to his crotch while standing in the doorway of the hotel room as Frank gawks and then stumbles towards him, spellbound with homosexual lust. 

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Such a scene would never have occurred in a 1950s film, yet Haynes creates this scene to subvert the 1950s culture of taboo and conduct a kind of cinematic revisionism: Haynes shows that while the dutiful, docile housewife is knitting, her husband is engaging in homoerotic affairs. When she decides to pursue a love interest of her own, that too is destroyed by cultural racism. Haynes indicates in other words that the modern world could not have existed in the 1950s, yet he also appears to pine for the type of sentimental flourishes that the 1950s provided--there decade had style, originality--the cars, the homes, the dresses and suits; the way men combed their hair and stood up straight and looked dignified; the way the women dressed and did their hair and looked stylish--that world ceased to exist as America transitioned into the revolutionary decades of the 1960s and 1970s when themes of sexuality and race began to be explored more openly before finally being accepted into the mainstream in the 21st century. As Ebert (2002) states, “Far from Heaven is like the best and bravest movie of 1957. Its themes, values and style faithfully reflect the social melodramas of the 1950s, but it's bolder, and says out loud what those films only hinted at.”

Essay on Compare 'All That Heaven Allows' to 'Far from Heaven' Assignment

Haynes does not get so hung up on the sexual taboos and the racial taboos that they keep him from remembering that he is making an homage film of sorts: the film is gorgeously decorated with the best that the 1950s had to offer, showing off everything from cool cars to wall lamps in the mid-century style. The lighting of the film is much more modern, however, with deft use of shade and color provided in Far from Heaven, making All That Heaven Allows look lo-fi by comparison. However, when it comes to costuming, set pieces, music, and mise-en-scene, Far from Heaven hits the right notes. This is how Haynes demonstrates his love for the mid-century look; but he has not made a mid-century movie. His movie is more cynical even as it is just as contrived: instead of giving the audience a happy ending, it is contrived to give the audience a sad one. Innocent Cathy is basically the personification of the 1950s that we cannot go back or ever really enjoy again. That decade has been lost and we say goodbye to it as it waves from the train platform. Haynes is reminding the audience through both narrative and film technique that the past is gone even as he attempts to duplicate it at least stylistically in film.

The total effect, however, comes off as just as unbalanced. Pleasantville was a parody of the 1950s and captured the same style and tone of the era: Far from Heaven is not a parody, nor a remake, but a rather the work of modern filmmaker living nostalgically through memory while projecting his own concerns about sexuality and race onto the era in a way that feels inauthentic. Thus, Haynes both reinforces the sentimentality of the 1950s while subverting the 1950s filmography. The film celebrates the style and veneer of the mid-century era, yet undermines it all by exposing the nastiness below the surface, pulling the viewer in two different directions at once.


Criterion Collection. (2018). All that heaven allows. Retrieved from
  1. Ebert, R. (2002). Far from heaven. Retrieved from
  2. Haynes, T. (2002). Far from heaven. LA: Focus Features.

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Compare 'All That Heaven Allows' to 'Far from.  (2018, November 26).  Retrieved September 21, 2020, from

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"Compare 'All That Heaven Allows' to 'Far from."  26 November 2018.  Web.  21 September 2020. <>.

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"Compare 'All That Heaven Allows' to 'Far from."  November 26, 2018.  Accessed September 21, 2020.