Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Drenched Umbrellas

The problem of viewing fifties musicals in a post The Matrix era, is that you cannot see them without imagining the ancestors of Jack McFarland in the Paleozoic period. Used as we are to the fast development of the story, special effects and the unnecessary kiss in the middle of a casualty shoot out, it becomes hard to substitute machine guns for tap shoes and crude, upfront language for romantic dialogue expressed through a song. Singin’ in the Rain is all that. A lemon pie dripped with meringue. Nevertheless, if we have to sit and watch a musical of the fifties, then Singin’ is the definitive one.

The story line of the movie is good: Faced by the introduction of talkies as the new medium in film, the studios are forced to employ the necessary means to keep up with the sensation. This situation allows for moments of comedy, such as the mockery of hiding microphones in lavish costumes or plants, dictation courses (wonderfully sung to the tune of “Moses supposes”) and the decision to hide the nasal voice of the most famous actress of the silver screen behind the sweet singing voice of a young Debbie Reynolds.

Gene Kelly proves his dancing abilities in the film, most of them through the synchronized tap moves he performs with his lackey friend Donald O’Connor who inevitably brings good humor to the movie with his witty lines: “Talking pictures, that means I’m out of a job. At last I can start suffering and write that symphony”. The famous “Good Morning” scene, in which Kelly, O’Connor and Reynolds are at their finest show us the intricacies behind dance choreography and lets us know, that we indeed are witnessing the finest of their craft.

The problem with the picture today, relies in our impatience to reach to the end. Filled with luvy-dubby corniness, typical of these types of films, we are forced to watch “unnecessary” songs that pause the story line instead of advancing it. We do concede, that this was probably a novelty in its times and hence, the importance of the film.

The main focus and perhaps, the genius of the film, is carried out by Kelly alone when he sings under the rain. An empty street, a fedora hat, an umbrella and lots of water. Four props used as ingredients to show the ecstasy of incomparable happiness, making the viewer wish it were actually raining outside so that one could try the same. Kelly’s character realizes that he is in love with Debbie Reynolds and his happiness is such, that rain matters very little. Not even when a policeman stops him from his puddle thumping and forces him to go about his way. If there is no other reason to watch a musical than to watch this scene alone, then the viewer would be content. The happiness that Kelly portrays while dancing under the rain gives us the sensation that nothing really matters when you are in love. Even if the realization comes under an inopportune thundershower. No special effects, except a wet umbrella. That, and that alone, is the marvel of this musical.-

Viewer Commentary:
  • Igor: Here we go again.... Another song.
  • Bdark our own "Costume Critic": Just you wait 'Enry 'Iggins.
  • Maracucho: Oh no. Mañana empiezo en la noche! y La que baila es Nina cuando sea famosa.
  • Tot's: Yeah we get it, you're in love.

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