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Musical Films Analysis

2776 words - 12 pages

Major Essay: Question One

Musical films have been present in Hollywood since The Jazz Singer (1927) premiered. Mast states that a film is a musical when the primary entertainment and investment lie in the musical numbers (p. 309, Wood, 2008). Musical films are often a beloved or hated genre due to the unrealistic nature of characters erupting into song and dance. This essay analyse four main conventions of the musical genre the spectacle, the narrative, the adaption of established stories and the power the combination of lyrics and music can achieve on screen. Examples from different periods in Hollywood will be used to explore these conventions and how they apply and have evolved to ...view middle of the document...

The spectacle element used in these films also acknowledges the stage musicals they were adapted from (Wood, 2008). Cinderella was filmed over 30 years after My Fair Lady while technology and culture has evolved basic conventions are still adapted and used to create musicals. Differences between these two films include the manipulation of sound. Audrey Hepburn’s voice is overdubbed to make Eliza sound beautiful and like a fantasy (Wood, 2008). In Cinderella, Brandy was cast as the lead due to the need for synchronisation between the speaking voice and singing voice. This was able to achieve realism and acceptance by audiences in modern cinema.
In musical films narrative is interwoven with spoken dialogue and sung lyrics. Visual styles enhance the narrative framework of a film (Wood, 2008). The Sound of Music (1965) and Calamity Jane (1953) both film adaptations based on true events or people. The film makers have used music to enhance the story making the facts more fairytale like and entertaining then a documentary.
The Sound of Music features both diegetic and non-diegetic songs to narrate the story. In the court yard at the convent the nun’s discuss Maria’s future at the abbey the song “How do you Solve a Problem like Maria” is performed for the first time. A reprised version is also featured as she walks down the aisle at her wedding. This song has a low pitch and an average rhythm which expresses the reflective nature of the Nun’s conversation. There is no dancing featured in this scene symbolising the sensible nature of the Nun’s in contrast to Maria’s wide nature at this point in the story. “Edelweiss” is sung in the film diegetically and is both acknowledged by the characters as well as having an onscreen guitar accompaniment.
Calamity Jane historical facts where altered to create a more romantic Hollywood love story. In reality she did not marry Bill Hickok as she does in the movie this shows how film makers take liberties when creating a production. Two songs featured in Calamity Jane allow the audience insight into the character’s psyche to further narrate the story (Wood, 2008). “Once I Had a Secret Love” performed by Doris Day and “Higher than a Hawk” performed by Howard Keel show the flexibility musicals have with the believability of using songs to convey a characters mood and thoughts.
High School Musical (2006) incorporates diegetic and non-diegetic music to narrate the story. “Get your Head in the Game” is an example of diegetic sounds such and the basketballs creating the rhythm textured with the non-diegetic music. This song also includes a glimpse into the characters psyche during Troy’s (Zac Efron) solo. Visually this shot is a single spot light on Troy while the other characters in the frame freeze to emphasise the internal moment occurring onscreen. The way this moment has been depicted on screen has changed to engage modern audiences however the presence of these elements reinforces that modern cinema still...

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