Singin’ In the Rain

In one particular scene in which Cosmo Brown played by Donald O’Connor is trying to cheer up Don Lockwood played by Gene Kelly, Cosmo seems to have endless energy. He dances, falls, beats himself up, preforms tricks, and eventually ends up going through a wall, all to make his best pal laugh. This scene can be easily related to, because how many times have you or a friend of yours gone out of the way to cheer someone up. The song Make em’ Laugh is performed throughout the scene and seems to be a moment that could be shared between two friends with a bit of musical flare. Although Singin’ in the Rain is a light hearted musical already, but the Make em’ Laugh scene is one of the best and most comedic. It is a great example of how musicals take real moments between characters and then exaggerate them for entertainment. In musicals character background or vital information about character are often expressed in song rather in dialog; for example in the Make em’ Laugh scene, qualities of Cosmo’s personality are discovered. In the scene we discover that Cosmo is not only a coworker and a boy who grew up with Don, but also a friend who generally cares for him. His true nature as a goofy grown up kid is revealed, without this scene which solidifies the audience’s view of their friendship, moments later in the film would be less poignant. We wouldn’t fully understand his motive to help Don and Kathy in the final moments of the film. In addition, the Make em’ Laugh is a song/scene in which Donald O’Connor excels and shines as a performer.

One of the aspects of Singin’ in the Rain I love the most is that it is a satire of both the studio film making process and the adaptation of sound into films. The film itself is a satire of the problems studios had during the conversion from silent films to films with synced sound. For example, many stars found it hard to change with the times, in Lina’s case her voice poised a great problem. Her natural voice was not what the audiences expected and if she were to appear on screen with her voice, her career would be over. Other challenges included how to record the sound for the film. Before sound became synchronized with film, actors and film makers were able to move around set and be animated on set. However, the recording process isolated the characters and made them virtually immobile, confining them to a small area where the microphone could pick up the sound. In Singin’ in the Rain we see this when the Dancing Cavalier is being filmed and Lina moves around the bush and her audio is only half recorded. In the film they also try to sew the microphone into her gown, but unfortunately it picks up her heart beat. The problem of microphone quality was also an issue, dialog was often not recorded loud enough, while other noises/sound effects were amplified. However, this is problem is still an issues today, and has lead to the adaption of ADR in which actors rerecord their dialog in post production, leaving the editor the task of syncing it with the footage. But, this was not available back when sound came to the studios, and issues with film and sound becoming unsynced was often problematic. During the screening of the Dancing Cavalier this problem happens exactly when Lina and Don’s enemy’s dialog is reversed. This mistake is so grave that it transforms the romantic period drama into a comedy. What makes Singin’ in the Rain so funny is that not only does it transport us back to the golden age of cinema but also pokes fun at what the film making process was like. Bookmarking history for young film makers today, to show them what our fore fathers had to endure, and how the entertainment business has changed over the years.

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