Monday, March 19, 2012

Singin' in the Rain


Singin' in the Rain (1952) is a meta-musical which captures the struggle a silent film production company has in the process of transitioning into "talkies"(films with actual sound dialogue between characters). This film has a generally joyful and uplifting mood throughout, somewhat of a norm for musicals. The situational humor within and the "making a musical with of a musical" make this movie very entertaining.

As Doane talks about in The Voice in the Cinema: The Articulation of Body and Space, films contain three types of "spaces": the space of the diegesis, the visible space of the screen, and the acoustical "envelope" of the theater itself. She states that most films with a typical narrative only uses the first type of space in order to keep a self-contained, believable narrative. In contrast, Singin' in the Rain uses each of these spaces to great effect. For instance, in the scene where the main characters are in an audience together watching the first "talkie" pre-showing version of "The Dueling Cavalier," the latter of the two postulated spaces are used. In this scene, knowing that you, as a viewer, are watching the actors and actresses watching themselves on a screen within the movie induces a heightened awareness for the viewer of the actual dimensions, composition, projected image, relative placement/orientation, and surroundings of the physical screen itself. This effectively makes the film obviously seem less realistic (not the goal of this musical anyways) as well as adding to the parody/satire that this is a musical about making musicals. Additionally, the aural aspect of this scene, with the idea of actors watching themselves in a theater, makes one aware of the theater in which they are sitting and the acoustics withing. Thus, Singin' in the Rain contains all three types of postulated spaces and therefore certainly is not a traditional film as Doane puts it.

Singin' in the Rain contains a strong sense of humor and satire and as a whole is essentially a parody of the process of making a musical. Lina is the source of much amusement throughout. Lina repeats multiple times "What do you think I'm stupid?" and then soon later she says a clearly erroneous statement and looks around awkwardly. Her shrill voice clearly is at odds with what an audience would want to hear in addition to the directional microphone problem causes the "Dueling Cavalier" pre-showing to be disappointing and humorous. Another example is when Kathy Selden's (Debbie Reynolds) resists Don's amorous advances and he car he leaves the car while talking in a poetic tone and says "...I must tear myself from my side" while his jacket rips on the car door showing irony between what is said and what takes place.

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