The role of the family in Douglas Sirk's film "Imitation of Life"

Essay by byoung1859University, Bachelor'sA, April 2005

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In the film, Imitation of Life, director Douglas Sirk examines the role of the family in the melodrama genre. The film, created in 1959, analyzed two mothers that differed in race, but evolved throughout the movie as friends, and as loving mothers. Regardless of social class, Lora (Lana Turner) a white woman, and Annie (Juanita Moore) a black woman, were always strong mother figures, and loved their children Susie and Sarah Jane very much. The unconditional love expressed by the two women remained unchanged throughout the film, even as they became wealthy, and their lives become more complex. When Lora and Annie's business started to take off, all Lora and Annie talked about was spending their earnings to make the live of their daughters better.

The film also steps outside of traditional boundaries, by portraying the lead character, Lora, as a strong, independent self-made woman, with a life to busy for a husband.

In fact, when Steve Archer first met Lora, he said that the powerful business woman intimidated him. In the thirty's, few women had neither the resources nor the support to start a business like Lora did, but she was able to do so with her ability to persuade, and her strong drive for success. Lora rarely missed a day of work. She put in long hours building the company from the ground up, leaving her for little time for a husband. Even with all of the wealth and lack of a husband, Lora always made time for her daughter. When Susie came back from college for vacation, Lora took an entire week off work to spend with her daughter. Lora and Annie became family, and treated each other as such. When Sarah Jane was missing, Lora did not hesitate for one moment to leave...