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Imitation Of Life

Douglas Sirk

Sirk’s last movie in Hollywood, and last commercial picture, is the absolute triumph of melodrama—a coldly brilliant weepie, a tale of two intertwined families in which the materialist optimism is continually counterpointed by an emphasis upon racist tension and the degeneration of family bonds.

“Sirk closed the 1950s — and his feature-filmmaking career — with Imitation of Life (1959), his most commercially successful movie. Its themes of mother-daughter love and abandonment, shame, and racial injustice provoked in many viewers at the time an endless flow of tears and can still bring on the waterworks today. I can’t recommend this or any of Sirk’s melodramas highly enough, whether for first-time or repeat viewers.” – Village VoiceEarly in IMITATION OF LIFE, Lana

“Turner’s character says, “Maybe I should see things as they really are and not the way I want them to be.” Oh, the irony. In Douglas Sirk’s films, however, it doesn’t so much burn as blaze—so fiercely, in fact, that it’s not difficult to understand how the irony and subversiveness for which Sirk is known among the cinephile crowd was lost on popular audiences at the time.” – Kathleen Sachs, Cine-File

“For his last Hollywood film, Douglas Sirk unleashed a melodramatic torrent of rage at the corrupt core of American life—the unholy trinity of racism, commercialism, and puritanism… For Sirk, the grand finale is a funeral for the prevailing order, a trumpet blast against social façades and walls of silence. The price of success, in his view, may be the death of the soul, but its wages afford retirement, withdrawal, and contemplation—and, upon completing the film, that’s what Sirk did.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

“The film opens with a shot of diamonds slowly falling into a glass container and filling the frame from top to bottom. Sirk immediately and deliberately acknowledges the precious and artificial nature of the film and, much greater, the film’s metaphoric, almost pathological obsession with surfaces (from mirrors to the color of the characters’ skins).” – Slant Magazine

“A true woman’s picture and a masterpiece of female empowerment/female entrapment, the film, working from Fannie Hurst’s novel, is a lush Ross Hunter-produced Technicolor dream. But through dealing with single motherhood, racism, class-ism and what it means to better yourself and your children it also showcases some pretty intriguing human behaviors.” – Kim Morgan, Sunset Gun


  • 6/23 | 7:00PM
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