|melodrama / 19th century true crime
||[Aug. 18th, 2009|09:26 pm]
The chapter on melodrama in Walter Kendrick’s The Thrill of Fear: 250 Years of Scary Entertainments was fairly interesting, although all too brief. I didn’t realise that melodrama got its name from being a combination of music and drama, and that the use of music was the main identifying characteristic. Music was used the way it’s used in classic Hollywood movies. I also hadn’t realised that the heyday of true melodrama was comparatively short.|
It was also very similar to horror movies in its use of special effects, with up to four different trapdoors in the stage to allow for the appearance of ghostly spectres and such-like things.
Kendrick is also interesting on the subject of the 19th century enthusiasm for true crime stories, often extremely grisly ones. And apparently as popular with the educated classes as they were with the masses. One broadsheet on the subject of a particularly gruesome murder sold well over a million and a half copies.