Domestic Bliss: Desire and the Family in Melodrama
Gender representation in postwar Italian melodrama from 1949 to 1955, the golden era of the genre, is shaped by a preoccupation with the patriarchal family and especially with motherhood and childhood. Heralded retrospectively as Italian cinema’s first national mass genre in an industry moving towards internationalization, the melodramas of this period are seen as successfully tapping into postwar desire for a return to stability in the private sphere of everyday family life. At the same time, the sheer excesses of the genre in portraying the family under threat from female sexuality, together with the heavily didactic and anachronistic fixation of femininity within the domestic sphere, point to a fantasy genre of the emotions in the service of patriarchal and Catholic ideologies.
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