Douglas Sirk (April 26, 1897 – January 14, 1987) was a movie director. He is best known for his lush romantic movies of the 1950s such as All That Heaven Allows. His movies were thought banal and unimportant by contemporary critics. Today however they are regarded as masterpieces and ironic commentaries on American life and society.
Sirk's life and work[change | change source]
Sirk was born Hans Detlef Sierck in Hamburg, Germany. His parent were Danish. He grew up in Denmark, but moved to Germany as a teenager. His theater career began in 1922 and his movie career in 1934. He left Germany in 1937. By 1942 he was directing movies in Hollywood. He is famous for lush romantic movies made between 1952 and 1958. At the height of his career, he quit making movies. He left the United States. Sirk died in Lugano, Switzerland about thirty years later. In 1985, he was awarded the Bavarian Film Award, Honorary Award.
A selection of Sirk's movies[change | change source]
- Magnificent Obsession (1954)
- All That Heaven Allows (1955)
- Written on the Wind (1956)
- Imitation of Life (1959)
What the critics thought[change | change source]
Sirk's movies were very successful at the box office, but the critics did not like them. They thought his movies unimportant and banal because they were about women and exaggerated emotions. His conspicuous style was considered unrealistic. Critical opinion changed in the 1970s. Analysis revealed Sirk's movies actually criticized American society beneath a banal surface plot. His movies are now regarded as masterpieces of irony. Sirk's reputation was also helped by a widespread nostalgia for old-fashioned Hollywood films. His movies have influenced other directors. Todd Haynes's Far From Heaven, for example, is a conscious attempt to replicate a typical Sirk movie. Roger Ebert has remarked that "To appreciate a film like Written on the Wind probably takes more sophistication than to understand one of Ingmar Bergman's masterpieces, because Bergman's themes are visible and underlined, while with Sirk the style conceals the message."
References[change | change source]
- Barbara Klinger. 1994. Melodrama and Meaning: history, culture, and the films of Douglas Sirk. Indiana University Press.
- :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies :: Written on the Wind (xhtml)