Berlinale: Programme


Film file

Retrospective

Leave Her to Heaven

Todsünde

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On a visit to friends in New Mexico, writer Richard Harland is introduced to beautiful, headstrong socialite Ellen Berent, who he has met on the train. He finally succumbs to her desire to marry him. But Ellen’s possessiveness puts a crimp in their life, as she begrudges the attention Richard shows his disabled brother and even her own sister, Ruth. As Ellen’s jealousy turns pathological, she accuses her husband of being in love with Ruth. Ellen wants Richard all to herself and she’ll stop at nothing to achieve that end … Arguably the first film noir made in colour. Film professor Scott Higgins described the hapless hero as “chromatically overwhelmed” upon first seeing Ellen on a train; her aqua eyes perfectly match the train’s decor, awakening Richard’s cravings. Later, he will be surrounded by the same colour in the courtroom. The Technicolor camerawork does a masterly job of stoking the tension between the overt and the subtext. White robes are an early warning sign of Ellen’s chilling iciness, while the red of her lips signalizes her erotic abandon. Douglas Sirk was influenced by the film, Martin Scorsese is a fan, and echoes of it can be seen in Todd Haynes’ Far from Heaven.

USA 1945, 110 min

by

John M. Stahl

with

Gene Tierney
Cornel Wilde
Jeanne Crain