Broken Blossoms Analysis

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Comparison of Two Melodramas
Broken Blossoms and Way Down East
This paper analyzes two melodramas, Broken Blossoms and Way Down East. It first defines what a melodrama is, then for each film, gives a synopsis, and analyzes the film. In the analysis, reasons why each film is a melodrama is listed and explained. Finally, the two films are compared.
Melodrama
Melodrama, as defined by Rousseau as a “drama accompanied by music” (117). The motions and acting used in Melodramas are similar to classical theater. It works on an emotional level, by finding a common feeling, while being able to cross over all language barriers. It does so through the use of excess, exaggerations that are used to convey emotions with more emphasis, and make up for the
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Broken Blossoms is a melodrama due to it’s use of visual expression, musical excess, stylistic excess, and pastel lighting, which makes it an artistic melodrama. The storyline of Broken Blossoms also uses a common feeling of sadness and fear, which can be carried toward the audience. Visual expression was used when Lucy was in fear for her life for example she ran into their broom closet and threw herself against the walls screaming and crying for help. She would also throw her hands in the air as if she were begging God to help her. Another example of visual expression was whenever Lucy felt nervous or scared, she would start playing with her hair and darting her eyes around the room. She would do this in a way to avoid eye contact with her father, Battling Burrows. One of the more famous parts of Broken Blossom was how she would take two fingers and force her lips up into a smile to please her father. In the film, musical excess is used to convey to the audience the emotions of the characters. For example, when Lucy’s father would start yelling at her, she would become anxious, and the music would be played in a way to give the audience feelings of anxiety. Another example is when Cheng Huen would look at Lucy the music would turn to a softer love sound to play along with his feelings for Lucy. Stylistic excess was used in Broken Blossom through the use of costumes and set design. For example, Lucy was dressed in ragged old clothing to represent her abuse and …show more content…
For example, both Broken Blossoms and Way Down East contain a central theme of good vs. evil, a victim vs. a victimizer. They also both use musical excess in very effective ways, allowing the emotions in the scenes to be carried to the audience. Another type of excess used is stylistic excess, in the form of clothing. They both use clothing to tell the story in their own way. For example, in Broken Blossoms Lucy wears ragged torn up clothing, which shows her misfortune, while in Way Down East Anna Moore is dressed in a conservative country girl outfit, which shows her innocent and naive self. Finally, the use of lighting in the theater in order to add extra emotional effect such as a feeling of warmth, anger, excitement, and love is used in both films. While there are these similarities there is also many differences between the two movies. Some qualities that were not similar between the movie include acting style, and outcome of the story. The acting style of Broken Blossoms is a more tradition style of acting. For example their actions are more bold and obvious such as the scene where Anna is hiding from her father in the closet. In Way Down East, the acting has a mixture of modern acting and classical theater. For example when Kate and the professor are talking together in the family room they are just simply sitting there making small gestures and facial

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