Let’s Make Musicals – That Changed Dialogue – Matter Again
“If music be the food of love, play on”. Shakespeare was right in his expression. Indeed, music has the power to heal, to shape future, and to cause revolution. It has the power to make you fall in love with anyone or with yourself in the first place. Music has been uplifting souls and people ever since. It adds that pinch of sweetness to every bitter moment. Ever since the first talkie, dialogues and music have been the backbone of cinema. We have seen movies having music as background score, or as supporting music, or in the form of songs. After an era of music, being a support system of movies, it came to the forefront and stood under the limelight with The Jazz Singer (1927) starring Al Jolson. This movie was the first of its kind to introduce musicals to motion pictures. It was then, followed by a whole new generation of musicals with great success at box-office.
Almost since then musicals have been counted as all-time favorite in the world of cinema. With time, directors and filmmakers started learning about the importance of incorporating music in dialogue delivery instead of just making it a part of the background score or accompanying songs. This trend paved the way for making musicals. Traveling a long way from being just Broadway musicals, Hollywood musicals could have been earned fame for themselves.
There have been till date many successful musicals around the world, but some have stood out the test of time and could cast a memorial in their name. A few names are mentioned here:
Directed by Robert Stevenson, produced by Walt Disney, music by Richard Sherman, Robert Sherman, and Irwin Kostal.
Marry Poppins was initially released on the 27th of August, 1964 and it is one of the most successful movies produced by Disney. For its musically sound script, the movie was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the United States National Film Registry. The original motion picture soundtrack was released by Buena Vista records on reel-to-reel tape and LP. As a result of time constraints, some of the songs were edited such as A Spoonful of Sugar, Jolly Holiday, and Step in Time.
Songs such as, A Man has Dreams and Sister Suffragette, were inspired by the Edwardian British music hall, won the movie two Academy and Grammy Awards. With a plethora of songs and musical dialogues, the movie is one of its kinds. The dialogues go far beyond from being just musical; they are empowered with perfect lyrics and unmatched musical score. Marry Poppins has cast magic and is a milestone for directors going forward in this genre.
The Sound of Music
Directed by Robert Wise, produced by Robert Wise, and music by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Irwin Kostal.
The Sound of Music (1965) is till date one of the most loved musicals for children and adults. We all can actually remember our music and drama teachers mentioning it or even showing it to us in school. The Sound of Music is here to stay and will remain an all-time favorite. It weaves story and love through music and words that rhyme with each other and teaches how music can be a therapy too. After its release, the Sound of Music became the highest grossing movie, surpassing the record of the movie Gone with the Wind (1939). The musical album reached the number one position on the Billboard 200 in 1965 and remained on the Vanguard for 109 weeks continuously.
The Phantom of the Opera
Music by Andrew Llyod Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart.
One of the most loved musicals of time, the Phantom of the Opera revolves around a beautiful soprano who becomes the obsessed love of a disfigured and mysterious musical genius residing beneath the Opera Populaire. It premiered on Broadway in 1988. Its eerie forlorn music with lyrics will givees you goose bumps and has brought tears to the eyes of many till date. The music in it is operatic in style but at the same time, it also maintains the structure and form of a musical. The complete operatic passages are used as musical fragments, often interrupted as dialogues. The musical bits and pieces from the Phantom’s opera, “Don Juan Triumphant”, during the end of the show, are modern and dissonant, suggesting, that the Phantom of the Opera is way ahead of its time artistically.
Directed by Baz Luhrmann, produced by Martin Brown, Baz Luhrmann, and Fred Baron.
Redefining cabaret and musical, Moulin Rouge (2001) is a romantic comedy film that goes beyond normal musicals and collaborates poetry with music in the most subtle and yet romantic way. The soundtracks were appreciated by both the critics and audience and it earned the movie several awards. The list of songs and musical dialogues in this movie is widely appreciated.
La La Land
Directed by Damien Chazelle, produced by Fred Berger, music by Justin Hurwitz.
In La La Land (2016), Damien Chazelle had a shot at something that has dodged futurist titans like Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Bogdanovichto make musicals in films matter again. For several years now, the genre that aided Hollywood’s golden age glitter has stammered, reappearing in Broadway adaptations like “Into the Woods” about the only constant sources for old ways of singing and dancing of the Turner Classic Movies kind has been seen in Disney cartoons, in TV shows like “Glee” and TCM itself. For years it has been believed that musicals are for kids, in remembrance of winks and nostalgia.
La La Land breaks the old school thought and brings musicals again back in fashion and became famous among the adult crowd. It glides through free-ways and traffic jams and narrates the beautiful tale of love. After a long wait, this movie provides a dose of actual and classy music that was beyond surrealism.
These are some of the renowned musicals created till date. There are many others in this list as well liked: these are West Side Story, Grease, Hairspray, Mamma Mia!, Enchanted, The Greatest Showman, Into the Woods, Cabaret, The Little Mermaid, High Scholl Musical, Aladdin, Tangled, Frozen, and many others. It is the high time that we start recognizing musicals again and give music the requisite importance that it deserves. Musicals are hardly made these days because filmmakers believe that they won’t be blockbuster anymore. The changing taste for music among the young audience is leading to the extinction of such classic movies. Let’s be more aware of it and learn to respect the art of musicals and bring it back as the world needs more of this genre on silver screen.