Montel, Alberto. “Italy: Recognition of Foreign Annulment and Divorce Decrees.” The American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 4, No. 3, (1955), pp. 439-443. 1 April 2008.
Alberto Montel’s article, “Italy: Recognition of Foreign Annulment and Divorce Decrees,” provides background information on the progress of divorce laws and the different types of marriage in Italy. There are two ways in which a marriage was recognized in Italy as of the 1950s. One method was the “civil” marriage, which was solely a legal affair. The jurisdiction concerning the validity of this type of marriage lay within the ordinary civil courts. The other method of recognizing marriage was the “concordat” marriage, which was “performed by a Catholic priest in accordance to canonical law” (440). According to a 1929 law, only the Catholic Church had authority to grant annulments when the marriage was of the “concordat” type. Although in the 1950s “divorce [was] not admitted by the Italian law, Italy [was] under international obligation to execute foreign divorce decrees dissolving marriages contracted by spouses belonging to a country where divorce [was] lawfully accepted” (440). Montel states that because of this “concession,” couples who were dissatisfied with their marriages abused the passive and relaxed sentiments of the court and pursued divorce decrees abroad (441).
“Italy: Recognition of Foreign Annulment and Divorce Decrees” is useful in contributing a detailed account about the different types of marriage, as well as restrictions and concessions to getting a divorce as of 1950 for the audience of Divorzio all’Italiana. From reading this article, the difficulty of obtaining an annulment becomes quite obvious: an unhappy couple either needs the civil courts to proclaim their marriage “invalid,” or for the Vatican to grant them an annulment. The latter situation is quite unlikely as up to the 1970s, the Vatican was strongly against divorce. Fefe Cefalu is therefore left with few options end his marriage with Rosalia and in order to marry Angela. In Divorzio all’Italiana, although the priest played a minor role in the movie, he was able to convey the struggle amongst the people, who were in favor of divorce. The fact that couples were already seeking divorce decrees abroad by the 1950s shows how their were Italian people in favor of having divorce laws. Furthermore, the fact that Italy was recognizing foreign divorce decrees was a sign that the institution of marriage was soon to be weakened by the possibility of divorce and annulments.
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Rheinstein, Max. Marriage stability, divorce, and the law. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972.
In Marriage stability, divorce, and the law, Max Rheinstein discusses the status of divorce laws in different countries such as Italy, Japan, the Soviet Union, France, Sweden, and the United States. Regarding Italy, a law allowing the institution of divorce was not passed until December 1, 1970. This law was likely passed due to influence of the League for the Institution of Divorce, one of the first middle-class pressure groups of this type in Italy. There were no official divorces until this law was passed; however, 1950s estimates reveal the number of permanent separations and abandonments to be 600,000. During this time, more than one million “irregular unions” in which either one or both parties were married to people other than their sexual partners existed. According to Rheinstein, “the battle about divorce […] is part of the battle over restructuring Italian society. […] By its intervention, the Vatican has turned divorce into a symbol. If the defense is lost, the church’s traditional power position will be shaken” (192).
Rheinstein’s book is extremely significant in order to understand the situation that Fefe Cefalu was going through, and moreover, the divorce situation in Italy at the time. The movie Divorzio all’Italiana was filmed in 1961, nine years before the institution of divorce was allowed to exist, yet eleven years after the reporting of “irregular marriages.” This means that at that time, the thought of divorce was definitely present, yet suppressed; especially in Sicily, which is known to be a very religious and traditional part of Italy. Furthermore, throughout the mid to late 1960s, there were a series of protests in favor of instituting divorce laws. Films that criticized Italy’s lack of divorce law, such as Divorzio all’Italiana, likely inspired people to protest since the movie reflected the social discontentment at the time. Finally, since the battle for divorce became strongly associated with the Vatican, movies like Divorzio all’Italiana, in which the Italy’s lack of divorce is ridiculed, is in essence undermining the Vatican’s authority in a time in which it is still very powerful.
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University of San Francisco Law Review 30.4 (1996) 1199-1208. (available at http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/lpop/etext/usf/papke30.htm)
“Peace Between the Sexes: Law and Gender in Kramer vs. Kramer,” Papke focuses on the legal intricacies of divorce in America from colonization to the time of Kramer vs. Kramer. He identifies the criteria used to determine child custody by American courts and how this criteria has changed dramatically several times over the past few hundred years. Contemporary to the release of Kramer vs. Kramer, child custody laws were being radically overhauled. In 1979, New York changed it criteria for child custody, moving away from maternal preference to accounting for which situation would be in the “best interest” of the child. Papke identifies the dramatic inaccuracy of Kramer vs. Kramer’s depiction of standard legal proceedings in a child custody case. He demonstrates, however, how these inaccuracies are purposeful and meant to underline the important of gender and gender roles in the movie. An example of this lies in the depiction of a lackadaisical judge who allows Joanna’s attorney to slander him in court without factual basis. Although inaccurate, such actions are derived from common divorce attorney stereotypes and do serve the purpose of eliciting sympathy for Ted Kramer. These mistakes also demonstrate the public resentment towards many figures involved with child custody judicial processes. Papke also discusses the appearance of the “male gaze” in the movie as it relates to the movie’s plot and feminist theory.
This article is very relevant due to the number of unique views on Kramer vs. Kramer. The article gives a history of the judicial processes handling divorce and child custody, but in addition discusses general public opinion regarding these events and how these attitudes surface in Kramer vs. Kramer. In addition, the article incorporates a prominent idea in feminist cinematic theory, that of the “male gaze,” and it discusses how this element presents bias as truth.
5-7. (available at http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC26folder/
This article evaluates the fidelity of Kramer vs. Kramer as a realistic depiction of life for families involved in divorce. Malloy notes many ways in which the plot and circumstances of Kramer vs. Kramer are either ambiguous or blatantly inconsistent. She proposes that the film’s failure to develop a stance on the topic of divorce and gender roles within marriage allow the audience to occupy any position on the topic without being confronted. The article addresses the goals, values, and expectations for males and females as they occupy traditional spheres. In the film, these spheres are reorganized due to the divorce, and Malloy suggests the film perpetuates these stereotypes by presenting a “win-lose” mentality for Hoffman as he tries to fulfill the requirements of both roles. Furthermore, many of the complications that arise from a divorce are neglected in the film, namely the economic status of the family and the amount of responsibility the private sphere requires. Such aspects of divorce are glossed over or treated in a manner that trivializes the difficulty many individuals, particularly women, have in overcoming. The movie never addresses the plethora of new skills and knowledge Hoffman would have to develop and learn in order to be an effective parent. Malloy finally identifies what she sees as the most blatant failure of them movie, the failure to address the cost of family on the parent who holds the private sphere. She also discusses the theme of feminism in the movie, specifically late in the movie, and the biased depictions of Streep near the end of the film that seem to align with certain feminist values.
This article relates to my research in that it pointedly critiques Kramer vs. Kramer’s depiction of feminism and divorce, claiming that the film is extremely unrealistic and purposely ambiguous. Malloy’s views are strong and well developed, and her article is especially valuable because it was written very soon after the movie was released and demonstrates many of the movie’s contemporary social trends and ideas.
Law Review 30.4 (1996) 1209-1219. (available at http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/lpop/etext/
In this article, Eisemen and Lurvey trace the history of divorce as depicted in cinema. They highlight individual roles, especially those that garnered critical acclaim, that dealt with the issues of divorce. Furthermore, they identify how the presentations of divorced changed in ways that paralleled industry, social, and political changes. During the silent era, films depicted divorce as a tragedy. When talkies emerged, divorce had become a more widely accepted fact of
American life. In fact, in 1930 Norma Shearer won an Academy Award for her depiction of a wife who becomes very flirtatious out of frustration with her husband’s own flirtations. The movie industry’s attempts to not endorse divorce while still providing commentary on it caused several shifts in cinema standards on the topic. The article’s scope is very significant, as the movies discusses transcend genre, including westerns, comedies, dramas, and black satire. The article then focuses on The War of the Roses, a 1989 comedy/thriller about divorce. Through its analysis of The War of the Roses, the article raises a number of essential considerations regarding the relation between movie and reality. Furthermore, the movie and article pay special attention to the issue of family law and the judicial divorce proceedings that punctuate divorce.
This article is relevant to the research because it discusses a movie remarkably similar to Kramer vs. Kramer along with the industrial and social context it was made. Because The War of the Roses was release a decade after Kramer vs. Kramer, The War of the Roses is an heir to Kramer vs. Kramer in the divorce genre. However, the film is unique in its approach to the topic of divorce, and highlights the social changes that occurred during the time between the two movies. While the article only mentions Kramer vs. Kramer explicitly in passing, it does investigate the changes in the industry during the time period.
This Time article, “A Father Finds His Son” by Gerald Clarke, discusses the personal life of Dustin Hoffman as it relates to his lead male role in Kramer vs. Kramer. During the production of the movie, Dustin Hoffman’s life in many ways paralleled its plot. After a decade of marriage and the birth of a daughter, Hoffman’s marriage to Anne Byrne reached an end, and the two divorced; negotiations for the divorce occurred during the filming of the movie. The article investigates the unique role Hoffman played in the direction and production of the movie; he exerted an immense amount of effort in the casting of his on-screen son to guarantee an accurate, realistic, and emotional portrayal. Clarke states in his article that Hoffman’s character in the movie was a direct reflection of Hoffman himself, creating a unique tie between his own biography and his character, Ted Kramer. Furthermore, the article notes the strong off-screen friendship between Hoffman and his onscreen son, Justin. Hoffman is reported to have exerted significant control over the plot and message of the movie, and Hoffman recorded many of his conversations with members of the production team regarding the direction of the film.
This article relates to the research topic because it demonstrates the relation between Hoffman’s experience of divorce and the movie’s attempt to depict the reality of divorce. The article gives the movie credence, as much of the story is based on Hoffman as in individual, father, and husband. Because Hoffman’s character is such a focal point of the story and important messages regarding gender roles are conveyed through his character, it is important to understand the changes made to the character due to Hoffman’s creative vision.
4-5. (available at http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC23folder/
In “Kramer vs. Kramer vs. mother-right,” Baum purports her views of Kramer vs. Kramer. Baum notes a very misogynistic theme within the film, and notes several specific scenes in the movie where such themes are apparent. Baum notes that from the first scene involving both Joanna and her onscreen son, Billy, emotional distance is apparent. Hoffman is shown a humorously inept at first; however, he quickly becomes a near expert in parenting, as highlighted by parallel breakfast scenes in the movie. At only a few instances in the movie is Joanna Kramer shown as a caring, loving mother; more often the audience is shown a Joanna that is aloof, irresponsible, and self-centered. Even Margaret, Joanna’s former friend, informs Joanna that she fails to understand the bond Ted and Billy have. She is stereotyped as the flippant feminist who sacrificed her maternal right, and then demonized for seeking to destroy a fraternal bond that has developed between Ted and Billy. Such depictions may be accurate for the plot, but Baum suggests that Ted is shown in an unreasonably positive light that idealizes him in contrast to negative maternal stereotypes and credits him with typically maternal skills and attitudes in an unrealistic manner. Baum suggests that the court battle itself is biased and is a disservice to potential viewers, ignoring the thousands of women in America who struggle to receive proper compensation from their children’s fathers. Baum ultimately interprets all these biases as demonstrative of a broader theme in the movie; if you are a mother and dare to deviate from society’s expectations of you in this role, you will no longer be allowed to be a mother.
This article is similar in many ways to Malloy’s article on the alleged bias of Kramer vs. Kramer against Joanna and for Ted. In the same way as Malloy’s article, it contrasts extensively with Asimov’s assessment of the movie and its realism. This article is relevant due to its evaluation of Kramer vs. Kramer’s accuracy in conveying a message regarding divorce to contemporary society.
Legal Studies Forum 24.2 (2000): 1-62. (available for download at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=214869)
This article by Asimov catalogues the appearance and depiction of divorce in American cinema from the 1930’s to the 1980’s. He discusses the important of film history as tool to understanding previous generations and their morals, values, and social goals. Asimow pays particular attention to the influence of the Hays Code and Production Code Administration on film and changes in its effectiveness, composition, and reputation among filmmakers and the public. As a legal professional, Asimow identifies other important legal shifts that changed divorce in cinema. Asimow also relates the depiction of divorce in cinema to the cultural context of the time, including changes in gender roles, the feminist movement, and the overall increase in divorces over the past half-century. In addition, Asimow deals with the religious, specifically Catholic roots, of the code and cinema censorship and demonstrates how movies trailed behind the progressivism of the middle and late twentieth century. The last third of the article focuses on an analysis of Kramer vs. Kramer as it relates to the depiction of divorce in America cinema. Asimow praises the film as an exemplary piece that accurately deals with the complications of divorce, including interfamily conflict and how such conflict is dealt with through family law. He enumerates the most essential qualities of a dramatic piece focused on the modern institution of marriage and divorce and explains in detail how Kramer vs. Kramer, uniquely deals with each.
This article relates to the research topic as it places Kramer vs. Kramer in a cinematic and historical context. In addition, this article is particularly useful in its assessment of the movie because of its clear but thorough assessment of what is necessary in a movie such as Kramer vs. Kramer. Finally, the article contrasts well with Malloy’s “Kramer vs. Kramer: A fraudulent view” as Asimow praises the movie for the exact same aspects that Malloy criticizes it.
nytimes.com. (18 Oct 2004). 3 April 2008 <http://www.nytimes.com/2004/
This article discusses the cultural context in which Kramer vs. Kramer was published and adapted to film. In the late 1970’s, American culture was in an interesting transition period as the lines that separated the public sphere, which had traditionally had been dominated by males, and the private, domestic sphere, which had once been dominated by women, began to blur. Important questions were being asked my society as men and women were defying traditional gender roles, including whether men could adequately raise a child, or whether women’s presence in the professional world would interrupt socioeconomic progress. Avery Corman evaluates the changes that have occurred in gender roles inside and outside marriage since his book was adapted into a blockbuster movie. He also discusses how he obtained the idea for the book, and describes his intention to write an “idealized father,” citing a man who is successful in both the public sphere and private sphere of life when confronted with the responsibility of both. Corman also discusses his goals in writing the book and his views on divorce and family as derived from his personal experience. He comments on the influence of Kramer vs. Kramer on American society’s views on the abilities and roles of the genders, and the objections of many feminists to his depiction of divorce and the role of Dustin Hoffman as a father. He states that he believes that his book and the subsequent movie influenced males to fight for child custody and play a more active role in the lives of the children after divorce.
This article is relevant to the topic because of its discussion of divorce in Kramer vs. Kramer. This article is particularly useful due to its inclusion of comments from Avery Corman, the author of the original Kramer vs. Kramer novel, in regards to feminism, divorce, and his intention in crafting the story.
Call#: Van Pelt Library HQ503 .S56 2003