Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu
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Sources of Melancholy in Cinema: Features of Bovarysm in David Lean’s Brief Encounter
Abstract: The process of identifying sources and representations of melancholy in cinema implies exploring character typologies that present aspects or even clear symptoms of what is currently termed as melancholic depression or major depression disorder. David Lean’s Brief Encounter (1945), an adaptation of Noël Coward’s short play Still Life (1936), presents female melancholy as an inherent symptom of the bovaryc character. This paper analyzes aspects of melancholy studying the case of Lean’s main character, Laura, and relating it to the features of bovarysm, as theorized and exhaustively explored by French philosopher Jules de Gaultier in the essay Le Bovarysme (1892). To what extent is melancholy an inherent symptom of the bovaric character?
While exploring the ongoing psychological research on melancholy and depression, we find it difficult to determine whether the character suffers from major depression disorder, as it is impossible to ascertain the specific cause of their symptoms, especially if they relate to internal, neurobiological systems. The apparent cause of their unhappiness seems to be the result of their perception of romantic relationships and their surrounding reality that does not reflect this distortion. Consequently, the analysis mainly focuses on the detectable elements and activators of the protagonist’s melancholic disposition.
Keywords: Bovarism, Gustave Flaubert, melancholy, Brief Encounter, David Lean, cinema, perspective
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