Singing in the Rain is an American comedy musical film starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor and Jean Hagen, and directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. It offers a comic depiction of Hollywood, and its transition from silent films to talking films. Throughout the movie, people could see many different elements that make the movie musical “Singing in the Rain” great. Because of the sound, especially the music, setting, costumes, make up, and the photography, this movie could receive a huge success during the 20th Century.
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The movie is set in 1927 and it takes a look at Hollywood’s reaction when the sound was first introduced and used into the film production industry. In the movie, the opening sequence began with Gene, Donald and Debbie dressed in yellow raincoat, singing and dancing the song “Singing in the Rain”. This scene was also used to advertise the movie. In my opinion, the director, Gene Kelly started the whole movie this way because it was a nice start to remind the audience of the wonderful scenes in the advertisement. Also the advertisement also gave the audience a good preview of the movie and plays an important role. Therefore, after seeing that scene again in the beginning of the movie, the audience might have a feeling that the movie was going to be really good and fun. The piano and drumbeats were in rhythm with him through the scene and made it more exciting. The opening sequence started out with the music that continued throughout the whole movie, which was one of the main themes. It definitely made an impact that will be lasting. In addition, the piano was accentuated. Without the sound, the scene was not as exciting as it should be.
The whole story combines different elements together; it is dashing, smug but also romantic at the same time. The movie opens with Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont arriving to the premiere of one of their many silent movies. In the movie, Don Lockwood is the most famous star in Hollywood, and Lina Lamont always convinces herself that they are real couple instead of just fake on-screen romantic pair. After the first talking film, the studio boss R.F. Simpson decides to convert the new Lockwood and Lamont movie into a talking movie called The Dancing Cavalier. However, the production is full of difficulties, such as Lina’s comically grating voice and the catastrophic test screening. In one scene that Don repeats “I love you” to Lina over and over again, which makes the audiences laugh. Cosmo Brown, who is Don’s best friend, has the idea to overdub Lina’s voice with Don’s girlfriend, Kathy’s. After Lina finds out she is furious and tries to destroy the romantic relationship between Don and Kathy. The new version of the movie receives a tremendous success. When the audience clamors Lina to sing live, Don, Cosmo and R.F improvise to get Lina to lip-synch while Kathy sings behind the curtain. However, when Lina starts to “sing”, they open the curtain. When Kathy tries to run away, Don stops her and introduces to the audiences that she is “the real star of the film”.
Since Singing in the Rain is a musical film, it explains classical musical well. The music reflects each inherent level of the scenes, and in this way the music has become an identifiable character. It helps to add irony to the plot as well as comedic support. Singing in the Rain “glorifies American entertainment” while at the same time creates a clever parody of the earlier form (Feuer 90). Throughout the whole movie, there are some certain scenes that use music to balance what is taking place on the screen thus adding a level of comedic sarcasm. For example, at the beginning of the movie, when Don is telling his life story about how to become a super star, at the same time, fiddle is played in the background to increase that feeling of isolation and struggle. While he is talking about how to be brought up on the classical and impressive theater and attending a prestigious and famous music conservatory, we could see that he is actually snuck into old and small theaters, playing in the local pub. Since the lighthearted or upbeat music had not been played over this sequence, this scene kept the charming sarcasm. Don is seen throughout his earlier career playing the fiddle. The fiddle is normally seen as disrespected and informal instrument compared to the violin. This fits the part that Don as a struggling musician before he became a Hollywood star. When the director gives him the first job, he says, “You might be trading in that fiddle for a harp” (Sing in the Rain).
At the very last shot in the scene where Lockwood is lifted from the ground and there is a close up of his face with the signs lit up in the background, the whole picture almost seems magical. Since Singing in the Rain is seen as a documentary about Hollywood, therefore, Lockwood comes up with his own ideas. There are many different ways to look at this scene. The way they set the camera angles were quite complicated for that time, which symbolize how she is his angel. The elaborate colors used also add to the larger than life science. For example, the bright red handkerchiefs that they are wear could symbolize their power and the threat that they pose to Lockwood. In addition, this lets us understand that she is an important character in the scene.
Damian Cannon says in his review that “Singing in the Rain is a fantastic mixture of dancing, humor and keen observation as Hollywood takes a good look at itself. The concept of a movie inside a movie is handled with style and panache, utilizing in-jokes, old props and self-effacing remarks which apply to more than just this picture.” Even though Singing in the rain is an old movie, and there are more and more good movies coming out which have brilliant technology skill and computer effort, I want to say that it is a movie that you will not feel regret to watch, even over and over again.
Damian Cannon, “Singing in the Rain 1952” film.u-net.com. 1997. Web. 14 December 2010.
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