Film Musical Assignment

A head start for next week. This assignment is not due until Week 2, but if you want to start picking out a film, here is the information.
Let’s watch one of the great musicals in the American tradition…and you get to choose it yourself! On your own rent one of the following and compose a brief essay answering a few questions concerning the film. Refer to the Film Musical Assignment Example to know how you should format the finished assignment. The choices and the questions are below. Pick our your film, pop some popcorn, and enjoy!
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Watch “The Wizard of Oz” and use the following to get your essay started (double-spaced, 900 words, include works cited page with at least two sources; a great place to start is musicals101.com. Answer the below questions:

  1. What do you think the yellow brick road symbolizes?
  2. What is the history of making the film?
  3. How much did it cost?
  4. Do the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion have symbolic meaning? What are they?
  5. How is color used to tell the story?
  6. How did the Wizard of Oz mirror early 20th century society? Did it capture any of the aspirations of early 20th century America?
  7. Did the author’s (Lyman Frank Baum) political ideas end up in the story?

Fantasia (1940)
Watch “Fantasia” and use the following to get your essay started (double-spaced, 900 words, include works cited page with at least two sources; a great place to start is musicals101.com. Answer the below questions:

  1. Describe Disney’s concept for the film?
  2. How was the project financed?
  3. How was the film received initially by the public and critics?
  4. Describe each musical section and the music used.
  5. How did this change animation history in the 20th century? How significant is it in terms of animation history?

An American in Paris (1951)
Watch “An American in Paris” and use the following to get your essay started (double-spaced, 900 words, include works cited page with at least two sources; a great place to start is musicals101.com. Answer the below questions:

  1. Describe the 17-minute ballet sequence – one of Hollywood’s longest.
  2. Talk about the composer George Gershwin.
  3. Describe Gene Kelly’s style and persona.
  4. Where was it filmed?
  5. How does it represent the highpoint of 1950s MGM musicals?
  6. What awards did it receive?

Sound Of Music (1965)
Watch “Sound of Music” and use the following to get your essay started (double-spaced, 900 words, include works cited page with at least two sources; a great place to start is musicals101.com. Answer the below questions:

  1. What parts of the Van Trapp family story presented are true?
  2. How is music woven into the fabric of the storyline?
  3. Describe one of the overarching film theme: love transforming a dysfunctional family.
  4. Talk about Julie Andrew’s performance and involvement with the project.
  5. Where was it filmed?
  6. How does it tell the story of World War II?

West Side Story (1961)
Watch “West Side Story” and use the following to get your essay started (double-spaced, 900 words, include works cited page with at least two sources; a great place to start is musicals101.com. Answer the below questions:

  1. How does the musical reflect the same values as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? In what ways is it different?
  2. Describe the dancing in this production. How about the vocal technique when compared with today? How are gestures, camera angles, and lighting used to convey ideas and feelings?
  3. How does the music change to communicate different emotions? Discuss how Bernstein (the composer) layers one kind of music over another or creates abrupt contrasts.
  4. What aspects of the action seem to relate specifically to gangs in the 50s and which seem relevant to today’s violence and racism?
  5. Is the story a reflection of late 20th century struggles concerning race relationships?

Chicago (2002)
Watch the Oscar winning film “Chicago.” Do some Internet researching on your own to compose an essay (double-spaced, 900 words, include works cited page with at least two sources; a great place to start is musicals101.com. Answer the below questions:

  1. How did this musical finally make it to the big screen?
  2. Discuss each of the main cast (Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger). How well prepared were they to do a musical? Did they have prior musical experience? Dance experience? Why, how did they get the part?
  3. What creative decision did director Rob Marshall make to ensure that the musical numbers would fit seamlessly into the action?
  4. What is your reaction to the film and performances?
  5. What insights into Prohibition-era Chicago does the film provide?

Singing in the Rain (1952)
This is one of the most celebrated and famous American musicals of all time. Respond to the following in an essay (double-spaced, 900 words, include works cited page with at least two sources; a great place to start is musicals101.com. Answer the below questions:

  1. How did they use the “show within a show concept” in the story.
  2. Describe the dancing. How have dance styles changed since the 50s?
  3. How was the plot used to introduce music into the film?
  4. Even though this is a comedy, was there any truth to the practice of dubbing voices for “talkies” in Hollywood’s early days?
  5. Why is this considered by many film historians one of the best of all time?
  6. What was your favorite sequence?
  7. How accurately does it portray Hollywood film history circa 1927? Do any of the events mirror actual events or films?

Moulin Rouge (2001)
Respond to the following in an essay (double-spaced, 900 words, include works cited page with at least two sources; a great place to start is musicals101.com. Research the original Moulin Rouge on the Internet. Answer the following:

  1. Was it a real place?
  2. Does it still exist?
  3. What is the purpose of the songs in the film? Do they reveal the internal emotions of the characters? Give an example.
  4. Why did the filmmaker decide to use popular song?
  5. Argue for or against the success of this in a 19th century melodrama.
  6. Why is the idea of a “show within a show” so popular in a musical? How successful is the idea here?
  7. How important are the songs to the plot? Could the story have been told without them?
  8. Only one song was written for the film (“Come What May”). How is this song used? Is it a leitmotiv?
  9. How accurately is turn-of-the-century Paris portrayed?

Ray (2004)
Rhythm and blues singer Ray Charles’ life made it to the big screen in 2004. Charles himself died shortly before the premier. Start an essay with the following (double-spaced, 900 words, include works cited page with at least two sources; a great place to start is musicals101.com. Answer the below questions:

  1. How does the film portray the mid-20th century African American experience?
  2. How is the development of soul music chronicled in the film? What musical styles did Charles incorporate to create his own sound?
  3. Describe the performances.
  4. How is music used to tell the story?
  5. Is this a drama or a musical? What arguments could be made for either genre?
  6. What awards did the film win?

Walk the Line (2005)
The story of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash made it to Hollywood in 2005. Consider the following when writing your essay: (double-spaced, 900 words, include works cited page with at least two sources; a great place to start is musicals101.com. Answer the below questions:

  1. Does the film give an insight into the development of country music in the mid-20th century?
  2. Describe Cash’s connection with Sun Records and Sam Phillips. How did Philips help shape American popular music?
  3. What other musical legends does Cash interact with in the film?
  4. Describe the performances.
  5. What is the role of music in the storytelling?
  6. Is this a drama or a musical? What arguments could be made for either genre?
  7. What awards did the film win?

Or watch any of the following:

  1. The Phantom of the Opera (2004), directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum (runtime 143 minutes)
  2. Rent (2005), directed by Chris Columbus, starring Taye Diggs, Rosario Dawson (runtime 135 minutes)
  3. Dreamgirls (2006), directed by Bill Condon, starring Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson (runtime 131 minutes)
  4. Once (2006), directed by John Carney, starring Glen Hadsard, Markéta Irglová (runtime 85 minutes)
  5. Hairspray (2007), directed by Adam Shankman, starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer (runtime 117 minutes)
  6. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), directed by Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter (runtime 116 minutes)
  7. Nine (2009), directed by Rob Marshall, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson (runtime 118 minutes)
  8. La La Land (2016), directed by Damien Chazelle, starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, (runtime 133 minutes)

For any of these, provide a brief criticism of the film.

  1. Was dance used, if so, how?
  2. Why is this film important?
  3. Did it win any awards?
  4. What makes the music interesting?
  5. How are the songs used in the story?
  6. What are the memorable songs? How are they presented?
  7. How does the music enhance the drama?
  8. What are the artistic goals of the film?
  9. Can you provide any information about the performers?

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