Essay on Letter From An Unknown Woman

1731 Words Nov 17th, 2016 7 Pages
Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls 1948) is a classic tale of unrequited love. The film centres around a lifelong love that Lisa Berndl (Joan Fontaine) feels for her former neighbour and pianist Stefan Brand (Louis Jourdan). To Lisa, this love is her destiny. She shapes her entire life behind it—indeed, she ‘defines her life by his presence in it.’ Despite this, she leaves him three separate times throughout the story. The first time, she leaves Vienna for Linz only once she is sure he is not hers. She comes back to Vienna soon into her adulthood. The second time she leaves him, it is out of a desire to be the ‘one girl who never asked anything of you.’ Their reunion is entirely by chance—they happen to be at the same opera. It is the sequence just before they talk again that this paper is concerned with. In it, which entirely takes place at the opera house, Lisa is with her husband, Johann Stauffer (Marcel Journet) when she learns that Stefan is there as well. She becomes sufficiently anxious and conflicted about her course of action when faced with the possibility of reuniting with the man she has an undying love for. This paper seeks to prove how the sequence fully emphasizes Lisa’s perceived entrapment by fate that drives the rest of her actions with Stefan in the film by focusing on the formal elements of costume, actions and appearance of the performer, speech, sound and camera movements.

The sequence opens with the scene of the bustling lobby of the opera…

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