Romantic Love in Documentary Films
Romantic love, the heart of many fiction films, is rare in documentary films. This essay begins by explaining its absence and shows that, when it appears, romantic love is usually depicted unfavorably: pleasure turns into pain, possession into loss or a marriage of misery and make do. Then the focus turns to “Sherman’s March,” the documentary that best reveals romantic love in all its aspects, as we (the viewers) accompany Ross McElwee or, rather, his persona, in a quest for romantic love from one after another engaging and distinctive Southern woman. The analysis shows the film’s remarkable construction, sound track and voiceovers, its images and camera movements; and finds that, as it celebrates the women’s uniqueness, originality and style, the film is a droll tale of a search marked more by frustration and failure than success.
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