Far from Heaven (2002)<br />All that Hollywood Allows: Gender and Sexuality on Screen<br />Butler, Judith. 2004. “Introduc...
Far from Heaven (2002)<br />Released November, 2002<br />Directed & Written by Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, Safe, I’m Not...
Far From Heaven: Summary<br />In suburban 1950s Connecticut, Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore), appears to be the perfect wi...
2002 in the News<br />Daniel Pearl is kidnapped and executed<br />The Winter Olympics are held in Salt Lake City<br />USDO...
2002 in Film<br />Top 5 Grossing Movies: (1) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, (2) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secret...
Far From Heaven: Background<br />Far from Heaven was styled after Douglas Sirk’s films of the 1950s. Sirk’s films were hig...
“I just can’t shoot straight anymore.”Frank’s Hollywood Homosexuality<br />“In fact, even motion picture industry practiti...
Sexual Perversion & Conversion<br />“Erhart argues that the text’s movement from epistomolical uncertainty to the discursi...
Frank and Gendered Homosexuality<br />“If the leisure culture of modernity replaced “separate spheres” with heterosocialit...
The modern artist just pares it down to the basic elements of shape and color.<br />“The rethinking of the human in these ...
Far from Heaven: Final Points<br />Haynes shows us exactly what Hollywood codes inferred. Frank and Cathy are perfect arch...
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Far From Heaven, Hollywood in the World

  1. 1. Far from Heaven (2002)<br />All that Hollywood Allows: Gender and Sexuality on Screen<br />Butler, Judith. 2004. “Introduction”; Ch. 2. In Undoing Gender. London: Routledge.<br />White, Patricia. 1999. “Reading the Codes(s)” In Uninvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. <br />Kate D’Adamo<br />Hollywood and the World, Spring 2011<br />N Kruscheva<br />19 April 2011<br />
  2. 2. Far from Heaven (2002)<br />Released November, 2002<br />Directed & Written by Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, Safe, I’m Not There, Dottie Gets Spanked)<br />Starring Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert<br />Rated PG-13<br />Budget of $13,500,00<br />Gross receipts: $29,027,914 internationally<br />Released in Europe, Asia, North and South America<br />Academy Award Nominations for Best Actress, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score<br />Won Best Picture for Village Voice Critics’ Poll, Chicago Film Critics Association, ChlotrudisAwards, Independent Spirit Awards, New York Film Critics Circle Awards, <br />
  3. 3. Far From Heaven: Summary<br />In suburban 1950s Connecticut, Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore), appears to be the perfect wife, mother, and homemaker. Cathy is married to Frank (Dennis Quaid), a successful executive at Magnatech, a company selling television advertising. One evening Cathy receives a phone call from the local police who are holding her husband. He says it's all a mix up but they won't let him leave alone. Cathy is preparing for her annual party with her best friend, Eleanor Fine (Patricia Clarkson). One day Cathy spies an unknown black man walking through her garden. He turns out to be Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), the son of Cathy's late gardener.<br />Frank finds himself forced to stay late at the office, swamped with work. One evening, however, he enters an underground bar filled with single men. Meanwhile, Cathy and Raymond develop a friendship. One night when Frank is working late Cathy decides to bring his dinner to him at the office. She walks in on him passionately kissing another man. Frank confesses having had 'problems' as a young man, and agrees to see psychiatrist Dr. Bowman (James Rebhorn) in the hope of being "converted back" to heterosexuality. (Homosexuality was considered a mainstream psychiatric disorder at this time). His relationship with Cathy is irreparably strained, however, and he turns to alcohol. One night, after a party, Frank attempts to make love to Cathy. He is unable to become aroused and strikes Cathy when she tries to console him. Unable to comprehend the destruction of her marriage, Cathy turns to Raymond for comfort. She sees him at an art show, where she spends much of her day talking to him, setting the town ablaze with gossip.<br />As Cathy sees her once idyllic world falling apart, she begins to form an even greater attachment to Raymond, but their non-intimate relationship has violent consequences for Raymond's daughter, Sarah, who is attacked by three white boys who are not prosecuted. The Deagan home is also vandalized. When Cathy reveals her marriage problems to Eleanor, she clearly disapproves of Cathy's perceived romance with a colored man. At the same time Frank, unable to suppress his homosexual desires, falls in love with another man and seeks a divorce from Cathy. Raymond decides to move away with his daughter to avoid further troubles for both himself and Cathy. In the last scene, Cathy goes to the train station to see off Raymond and say her silent goodbye to him.<br />Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_from_Heaven#Awards<br />
  4. 4. 2002 in the News<br />Daniel Pearl is kidnapped and executed<br />The Winter Olympics are held in Salt Lake City<br />USDOJ announces it will pursue criminal investigation of Enron<br />The Queen Mother passes away<br />A Birmingham jury convict Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry for the 1963 murder of four African-American girls <br />John Walker Lindh (the “American terrorist”) pleads guilty and is sentenced to 20 years<br />Iraq War Resolution is approved by a majority of Congress<br />Bush establishes the Department of Homeland Security<br />LGBTQ Rights in 2002<br />Homosexuality is decriminalized in China<br />Openly gay Dutch politician PimFortuyn is assassinated<br />Germany passes a law vacating Nazi-era convictions for homosexuality<br />Trans woman Gwen Araujo is murdered<br />After a legal battle, Canadian teen Marc Hall is permitted to bring his boyfriend to prom<br />Nevada passes a Constitutional Amendment which defines marriage as between a (cis-gendered) man and woman.<br />
  5. 5. 2002 in Film<br />Top 5 Grossing Movies: (1) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, (2) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, (3) Spider-Man, (4) Star Wars Episode II, (5) Men in Black II<br />Academy Awards, Best Picture: Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist<br />Academy Awards, Best Actress: Nicole Kidman (The Hours),Renee Zellweger (Chicago), Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven), Salma Hayek (Frida), Diane Lane (Unfaithful)<br />
  6. 6. Far From Heaven: Background<br />Far from Heaven was styled after Douglas Sirk’s films of the 1950s. Sirk’s films were highly-stylized melodramas which revolved around middle/upper class woman.<br />Far From Heaven was based heavily on Sirk’s film All that Heaven Allows (1955), about a wealthy widow who falls in love with her much younger gardener, played by Rock Hudson. The film explores the stigma of a judgmental society, as her friends and family turn against her as a result of their love affair. The two part, resigned to their unhappiness. Eventually, she rushes to his side just as he has had a life-threatening accident.<br />The lead love interest in played by Rock Hudson, one of the most popular leading men of the 50s and 60s. Hudson’s sexuality was kept in the closet for most of his life, until he became one of the first celebrities to pass from AIDS.<br />
  7. 7. “I just can’t shoot straight anymore.”Frank’s Hollywood Homosexuality<br />“In fact, even motion picture industry practitioners recognized censorship as a set of codes for producing meaning, and particularly sexual meaning, and indeed for producing readings.” (p 5, Reading the Codes)<br />“The letter of the Code specifically prohibits the presentation of scenes and episodes that tend to arouse sexual passion or morbid curiosity. The spirit of the Code precludes the development of any theme whatever possessing the flavor of sexual irregularity or per version. The fact that the Code does not name perversion, only enhances the implied condemnation.” (Breen)<br />While homosexuality is a major theme, it is never overtly stated. Cathy and Frank can only have stammering conversations which allude to the fact that Frank is gay.<br /> Cathy: I can’t.<br /> Frank: I don’t.<br /> Cathy: What?<br /> Frank: You see…uh, once, a long time ago…a long, long time ago I had…uh…uh, problems.<br />
  8. 8. Sexual Perversion & Conversion<br />“Erhart argues that the text’s movement from epistomolical uncertainty to the discursive production of lesbianism through Martha’s taking on of the signifier and “coming out” relates to the changing medical and popular discourses on lesbianism particular to the late 1950s. Martha is not a homosexual “kind of person” but suffers from a kind of sickness.” (p 12, Reading the Codes)<br />Frank’s only recourse for addressing his “issue” is to see a psychotherapist to be “converted back” to heterosexuality. The tone of this plot point is not aggressive or uncomfortable, but supportive, as a wife would be with any other disorder.<br />
  9. 9. Frank and Gendered Homosexuality<br />“If the leisure culture of modernity replaced “separate spheres” with heterosociality and shifted definitions of public and private, both social systems were structured by binary conceptions of gender. Hence homosexualities formed in relation to mass culture (and its intensive construction of feminity as image) are also highly gendered… Rather these movements catalyzed subjects whose social vulnerability was formed in relation to mass culture’s politics of the visible, to the movies’ contestations of heterosexuality and homosociality and their contradictory structures of address.” (p4, Reading the Codes)<br />(In reference to The Killing of Sister George) The rating “allowed” the film to be released in the United State, but effectively prevented it from being seen because major newspapers would not carry advertising for an X-rated film. The film flopped; its depiction of lesbianism was received – overdetermined - as “sex perversion.” (p 7, Reading the Codes)<br />Frank, despite his sexuality, is never revealed to be anything besides the picture of masculinity. Hollywood created a structure of gendered homosexuality, which Frank portrays. He still drinks, engages violence, maintains a high-paying “masculine” job, and often employs similar stigma against other minorities. Frank’s character maintains a veneer of heterosociality, which allows Haynes to create his ultimate lesson: that we cannot rely simply on what we see, and that the picture of nostalgia do not equate understanding.<br />
  10. 10. The modern artist just pares it down to the basic elements of shape and color.<br />“The rethinking of the human in these terms does no entail a return to humanism. When Franz Fanon claimed that “the black is not a man,” he conducted a critique of humanism that showed that the human in its contemporary articulation is so fully racialized that no black man could qualify as human. In his usage, the formulation was also a critique of masculinity, implying that the black man is effeminized.” (Butler, p 13)<br />Raymond is portrayed in a more feminine role than Frank, again highlighting the gender dichotomy. He is a gardener, takes care of a daughter on his own, and engages with Cathy around art. He is Frank’s counterpart, and clearly a better match for Cathy.<br />Frank remains, though, a catalyst for Cathy. He does not change or progress, but spurs her to re-evaluate her circumstances.<br />
  11. 11. Far from Heaven: Final Points<br />Haynes shows us exactly what Hollywood codes inferred. Frank and Cathy are perfect archetypes of gender, despite showing alternative sexualities.<br />Raymond is a flat character, full of knowledge and ultimately emasculated. This is, ultimately, Cathy’s story, not Cathy and Raymond’s story.<br />The nostalgia we feel is false, and it takes very little to see that those who followed social construct were ultimately left unhappy.<br />The story is one that translates into many cultures and contexts. While Haynes adapted All that Heaven Allows into this film, Rainer Werner Fassbinder (also gay) wrote and directed the homage Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, where an older German widow falls in love with a young Moroccan guestworker.<br />

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