15th May2017

Movies to Show My Son: Singin’ in the Rain

by Dan Clark

Welcome to another installment of Movies to Show My Son. This is the blog series were I discuss movies I can’t wait to show my son in the future. I’ll be covering my own personal experience with the movie, movie and life lessons I hope he will learn, and lastly my concerns about showing said film. This week’s film is Singin’ in the Rain

Singin-in-the-Rain-header

Personal Memories:

Growing up my parents watched a lot of classic Hollywood films. Back when AMC actually lived up to its name of American Movie Classics it was regularly on in our household. I do not have a specific memory of when I first watched Singin’ in the Rain but I do remember watching it often mostly in bits and pieces.

It was not until recently when I sat down to watch it for the first time from start to finish, and serendipitously it relates to the birth of my child. A few months before he was born my wife and I went on a trip to Miami, Florida for some rest and relaxation. Apparently it is called a Baby Moon when you do that, but I did not call it that because that is stupid and unnecessary.  We need to stop giving every type of vacation its own special name. Once people started calling staying home not doing anything a Staycation we reached the point of no return.

Knowing I was going to be on a plane for a few hours I wanted to take the time to watch a film I had been putting off due to its time commitment.  I first thought of Lawrence of Arabia but that was actually longer than the plane ride itself so I eventually settled on Singin’ in the Rain. I know watching a movie a few miles up on an iPad goes against the Cinephile code of ethics, but for me it was now or never. Also not the biggest fan of flying so it took my mind of the fact I was in metal tube traveling hundreds of miles an hour thousands of feet above the Earth’s surface.

Watching it brought me back to those days of sitting on the coach watching old timey films with my mom. There is just something genuinely special about that time period of film making. If you read anything about what was going on behind the scenes it was quite awful the way the actresses were treated. The cast in general were not the biggest fans of one another. On screen however everything is perfectly quaint and grand. It is a sensibility that is very much of the time and is impossible to replicate.

Age to Show:

I struggle with what age this would work best. There is no worry about there be anything inappropriate for a child to watch. The worry comes when you consider the run time. There are not many adults who can sit down for a musical. It took me to be stuck in a situation where I literally had no place else to go in order to finally rewatch this. Once you begin watching it though you get sucked into this magic atmosphere. So eight to twelve seems like the best choice. A child would be more able to get into the overall story at the same time teenagers may be turned off by some of the corniness.

Movie Lessons:

With Singin’ in the Rain my son can get a pretty massive movie lesson as the story centers on one of the most important times in movie history. It was a time when film was transitioning from Silent pictures to the good old talkies. Personally I love movies about movies and this is one of the best. I am excited for my son to see a portion of the evolution of film making. He can see the changes that took place during this transitional period along with how much movies have changed since Singin’ in the Rain was released.

The musical and dancing sequences in this are a treat to witness. You can get impressed by the intricate choreography, jaw dropping set design, and the impeccable musical talent on display. Each musical sequence is a gifted treat that never spoils. Outside of that he can learn how musicals are able to tell stories in their own special way. How songs can not only be audibly pleasing but also give you insight into characters and their relationships with one another.  How each sequence is not just for show by plays a pivotal part in telling this story. The best action films do not just have action for action sake, and the best musicals do not just force in songs just because they need to fill the soundtrack. Singin’ in the Rain sets the standard for how to do it right.

It also shows that a film can be overly joyous and still have an emotional punch. When you look at classic films that are well regarded most tend to be on the dark and dreary side. A movie like Citizen Kane barely has anyone that ever smiles. At times films with a more upbeat tone tend to be looked at as more simple. Movies that do not have a grand thematic weight nor artistic value outside of pure entertainment. Signin’ in the Rain disproves that myth, and shows the classic American Cinema can be just as high quality as the best of the French New Wave. Perhaps it is more upbeat, but it is no lesser of a film.

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Life Lessons:

Singin’ in the Rain shows that a big part of perseverance is being willing to evolve. Gene Kelly’s character is face with the dilemma of loving a profession that is passing him by more and more each day. His skills have not diminished the profession has simply changed. He survives not by trying to undo this change rather he evolves with it. Taking what he is good at and finding ways to apply it in this new world of talking pictures.

I hope my son can see the importance of being able to adapt with the ever changing world. Being a former teacher the saying that was always tossed around was, “Be a life time learner”. That is true for any profession or life in general. Children are obviously in the prime of their learning careers as they develop the basic skills that will push them forward in life. I hope my son can watch this and realize that we never know what the future holds. You may think that Algebra you are taking won’t apply to you when you get out of school, and maybe you are right. Maybe though you unexpectedly fall in love with Engineering so the math you half assed suddenly is far more important.

This also shows that we should not be afraid of innovation. When talkies came out at the time many thought they wouldn’t work or would ruin the industry. That tends to be the case when there is a potential giant change with something people already love. People already love computers so why would this internet thing take off. Sometimes you do get something like 3D that is billed as an innovation but quickly fades away. More often though when you get ahead of an innovation while others are rejecting simply out of habit.

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Concerns:

My only major concern with Singin’ in the Rain is the mindset you need to put yourself in to enjoy musicals. I know as a child it always seemed unreasltic when an entire group of people who break out into song in the middle of public like all practice for months before they got there. This was long before the craze of Flash mobs mind you.

Outside of that there is the concern that he will simply not like the music. How many kids want to hear the music of their parent’s let alone their grandparents.  Also the dancing is not quite to the athletic level of today. There are not headflips and other moves that I don’t know the name of because I am a thirty year old white guy who grew up in rural Pennsylvania. What I see as an impressive he may see as trired and boring.

My hope is when you have music and talent to the level of Singin’ in the Rain that it will translate to any generation. I did not enjoy a lot of my father’s music but we both bonded of the greatness of The Beatles and Johnny Cash. In many ways Singin’ in the Rain is to film what The Beatles are to music. My hope is my son will agree or I will be forced to play the soundtrack on repeat during road trips—an old trick I learned from my dad.

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