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Being a white woman having bi-racial children, I wondered about my daughters fascination with this movie. She told me it is one of the best movies she has ever seen. After watching the movie, I understand. The movie mirrors much of my/our life...me putting other people and things before my relationship with my children. This movie had me crying so deeply and helped me to see that there is nothing more important than nurturing and loving our children and giving them what no other person can. I am happy to say that although my daughter and son did not have what they needed as children, they have become encouraging and loving parents to their own children. This is a MUST see movie.
Imitation of Life is without question one of my all-time favorite movies. My mother showed it to me when I was a tween and it marked the beginning of my love of old movies--particularly the black and white ones from the 40s & 50s. They just don't make 'em like this anymore. Imitation grabs you by the heart and doesn't let up until the ending credits roll. And even afterward, you're not likely to forget this story. If you haven't seen it, please do...and don't forget the tissues.
Reviewed in the United States on November 14, 2019
This movie came out and was set in 1959. A time when bigotry and racism was actually acceptable. It is the story of two strong women trying to raise their famililes. One is white the other is black. They both make the best of their situations and help each other through decades of life. It is a glimpse at the past and an invitation to think about the present and future. I wish everyone could see this movie.
I enjoyed this portrayal more than the original adaptation. Although I enjoyed both and have viewed them many times. The one has become my favorite. I am older now and view the films with a new point of view. The 1959 perspective allowed me to see a more in-depth aspect of the characters that I missed in the early film. Although the role of Annie is less integral to Laura's success in business (the concept changed from pancake batter business they started together) to a more servant role as her maid, the Annie character is presented less subserviently heee. The interaction between the daughters and mothers is complicated by the limitations of the times as it relates to being a woman and the differences in racial experience. The movie exposes the complicated relationship between mothers raising girls into women and how each daughter finds the other's mother a better parent for different reasons. I would love to have an in depth discussion about this book and each film adaptation and how the experience of these characters were affected by the construct of the time period and gender and racial bias. It was a story of courage, unconditional love, unrequited love, consequences , and of course identity. How these characters defined self-esteem and how that affected their decisions is a lesson learned. I was moved emotional and intellectually . I would recommend this film.
My mother had me watch this movie back in the 1060’s as a child, I never forgot this movie, as she wanted me to learn from it. Being a child from a mixed marriage, this taught me a lot. I had my now grown daughters watch this when they were teens. I purchased another copy, just finished watching it again. Even after 5 times, I still cry my heart out!
This VHS arrived way ahead of schedule and was in very good condition. As for the movie, a drama classic. All performers are great including headliners Lana Turner and John Gavin, but the real stars of this movie are Juanita Moore and Susan Koehner. Several of their scenes near the end of the movie had me choked up and that never happens! If you’re a fan of soap operas you’ll want to check this one out.
I have much enjoyed IMITATION OF LIFE, the '59 Lana Turner version by Douglas Sirk. From the elegant title sequence (could've been for an early Bond or an Audrey Hepburn vehicle) to the glorious funeral procession at the end - which was remarkably grand given that Annie was 'just a maid'. Artistic license, and it suits the splendor of the movie. Based on the eponymous novel by Fannie Hurst, it weaves several narratives together. The racial drama is very poignant and includes threads like the sexualization of the 'exotic' daughter Sarah Jane as a matter of course and the 'natural' self-effacement of her mother Annie, who never, ever wants or demands anything for herself. This self-effacement keeps her and her daughter relatively safe in a racist world, but Sarah Jane is acutely aware of the humiliation and restrictions, and is determined from an early age to escape the horror of Annie's fate. In trying to do so by seeking to pass as white, she can't but deny her mother, which is the tragedy at the heart of the movie.
There's also the story of the 'overriding' ambition of the genteel white woman and the conflicts that ensue with powerful men, love interests and her daughter. Sirk keeps a good and pleasant pace and the acting is altogether solid, even if sometimes a bit big. Lana Turner, whom I only knew from photos, is a revelation and I look forward to seeing more of her work. Here, she displays a slick balance between typical mid-century femininity and a defiant, sturdy quality, that makes her very different from the fragile poo-poo pee doo persona onscreen of Monroe (a comparison evoked by their similar platinum blond hairdos). I was intrigued by Sirk's use of music. It features in many scenes as a background and adds to the 'glamour' of the movie. So do the sophisticated costumes and the art direction overall. I don't think the gloss and the rarefied circles of highly successful and rich theater people undermine the story or make it less real. On the contrary, they help explain the urgency of Sarah Jane's longing. She grew up in between these worlds but got far more of a taste of the 'good life' than her mother - since she, as a child, was not bound by formality and scripts the way 'the maid' was.
Oh, and the funeral scene with Mahalia Jackson singing Trouble of the World is just magnificent.
5.0 out of 5 starsA Movie That Demonstrates While Things Have Changed, Nothing Has Changed When It Comes to Race in America
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 3, 2018
Movies about Race and the need to renounce one's cultural identity don't come much better than this movie. Demonstrates America's laws of Segregation and racist attitudes that created divisions between a black woman and her light-skinned daughter who was ashamed of her mother, her ethnic identity and pretended to be a 'White' as it was easier to do that, than admit she was the product of an interracial relation between her black mother and a white man. Lana Turner gives a good performance as a then out of work actress (a mother herself,) who takes in the Black lady and her daughter and brought them along as she becomes a successful actress and movie star.
The ending is a tear jerker, which always leaves the women folk in my family, in tears. A movie well worth watching if you want to watch a good movie that demonstrates the issue of Race in 1950s America.
2.0 out of 5 starsVery disappointed was in a foreign language
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 29, 2018
Very disappointied with this dvd when it arrived I couldn’t wait to watch it on reading the back of the dvd I found it to be in a foreign language!!! Which I would never have brought this was not made clear in the description when I brought this
The film gets four stars for the title alone. Whilst in the original film, the "imitation of life" was just a reference to Peola's (in this film, Sarah Jane) desire to pass for white, in this film, three out of the four main characters have been living their own imitations of life. Lora (Lana Turner) persues fame and fortune as an actress whilst neglecting the ones she really loves; Sarah Jane (Susan Kohler) passes as white not to gain better social rights but to persue false ideals of "white beauty"; and Lora's daughter Suzy (Sandra Dee) nurses a hopeless crush on her mother's boyfriend, Steve (John Gavin). Only Annie (Juanita Moore), Sarah Jane's black mother and Lora's maid/friend, lives a real life by her loving devotion to the other three. Unfortunately the devotion is rejected by Sarah Jane.
The Sarah Jane role works better here than it does in the original 1934 film, although Kohler is whiter than the actress playing the child version of Sarah Jane. In the original, Delilah is very much the "mammy" stereotype and it's no wonder that her daughter would want to reject that life, despite loving her mother. In this film, Annie may be a humble maid but she's not a stereotype, and so Sarah Jane's rejection of her mother in order to persue what everyone around her can see as an unsatisfying existence is all the more tragic. Sarah Jane is not "evil" as some reviewers have claimed- she simply persues a false version of beauty instead of accepting herself. This film also focuses more on the Annie/Sarah Jane story and you grow to care deeply for the characters.
Lana Turner really seems to identify with the Lora role, which is more exciting than the equivilent in the original film. We watch her form loveless attachments to men in order to advance her career, neglecting her daughter and Annie in the process. As Lora's daughter, Sandra Dee convinces as a sweet "perfect" teenager, longing for romance and envying Sarah Jane's glamorous beauty.
The men in the film do not stand out in the way that the women do, but this is very much a woman's picture, emphasising female bonds over trying to please men. It's the perfect break-up film.
The only other Douglas Sirk film I've seen is part of All That Heaven Allows but Imitation of Life is one of those films that epitomises a director's style. Sirk shows us a technicolour version of suburbia aesthetically but emotionally this suburban life is empty. The melodramatic style, as well as being undeniably effective in inducing tears, alerts us to the "falseness" of this life.
Lane Turner plays widowed Lora who is just starting out as an actress. When she meets Annie (played by Juanita Moore), who comes to work as her housekeeper, it seems a perfect arrangement. Lora's daughter Susie can play with Annie's daughter Sarah-Jane. The problem being, that Sarah-Jane passes as white but Annie is black. As Lora becomes rich and successful there is the added complication that her boyfriend, who she strings along while in between rushing off to make new films, becomes ever closer to daughter Susie, now growing up fast. The one problem with the film is that Annie seems to be languishing and on the point of death in many later scenes, and I thought there might be trouble ahead with boyfriend and Susie. It's very moving though, especially the scenes where Sarah-Jane rejects her mother - whoever said it was a three-hanky movie was right.