Joan Micklin Silver Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Joan Micklin Silver 1935–

American director and screenwriter.

Silver is one of the very few women whose films are independently produced. Her works are personal period pieces in which she attempts to recreate the feel of the times. Wit and the touching portrayal of human relationships add to the realism of her films.

Silver's first work, The Immigrant Experience: The Long, Long Journey, is a short film dealing with the arrival of Polish immigrants in America near the turn of the century. Silver expands this theme in Hester Street, her first feature film. In this work, a Russian Jewish family comes to America, much as in The Immigrant Experience, but Silver broadens her characters, and the themes associated with immigration provide a touching narrative.

Silver's next film, Between the Lines, deals with underground newspaper reporters who learn to face the loss of their idealism. Set in the 1960s, the film attempts to be both poignant and humorous—a remembrance of lost radicalism. Silver's most recent film, Head over Heels, is an adaptation of Ann Beattie's novel Chilly Scenes of Winter. Like Between the Lines, it treats the sixties and the need for individualism in the face of increasing pressures to conform.

In all of Silver's films, true humanity is the most prevalent theme; human interaction and the need to cope with problems exemplify this humanity.