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PAST PERFECT: TODD HAYNES

In anticipation of the release this month of Far from Heaven, TODD HAYNES’s eagerly awaited homage to Douglas Sirk, GEOFFREY O’BRIEN visited the director at his home in Portland, Oregon, where they discussed Haynes’s canny redeployment of the syntax of ’50s cinema.

Seen from one angle, Todd Haynes’s Far from Heaven is a cunningly precise pastiche of a movie Douglas Sirk might have made in 1958—if, that is, Universal Studios had been prepared to release a movie bearing on homosexuality, interracial romance, and the civil rights movement. Right from the start—as the camera descends through autumn foliage toward an overview of a serene street in what is meant to be Hartford, Connecticut, to the sweeping, plangent accompaniment of Elmer Bernstein’s score—we have the vertiginous impression of being dropped back into a past all the more welcoming for having never quite existed in the first place.

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