I like musicals. Well, not every one, but there definitely is something about the form that intrigues me. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a catchy song. But more than that, there’s just something about the uniquely stylized way of telling the story. How curious, when one stops to think, is a situation where individuals and groups burst into song to express their circumstances and conflicts, how divorced from the real world. Musical theater is one thing- when I watch someone on stage acting out a story, it’s expected that real life is on hold and my imagination will have to carry some of the weight. But then there is the movie musical. This is a funny thing. When so much of classical cinema has been about obscuring the artifice of film, here is a movie that takes a paradoxical approach. One on hand, it creates a fictional world that resembles the real world as much as possible. Then it has the characters take the utterly bizarre action of spontaneously singing, with each other and to each other. And so it becomes a case study of how convention defines perception. Movie musicals are incredibly weird when you stop to think about it- which no one does because stories have been put to film this way for as long as there has been sound, and for long before that on the stage.
One of the really weird things about a lot of musicals is you sometimes know the songs without having the slightest idea HOW you know the songs. The second we turned this film on, I realized that was the case for me. I’d not seen it before – I hadn’t even read the book – and yet I knew these tunes, somehow. And now, a few days after seeing the film, I find myself singing them still. I’m not sure if that is a good thing – I know if we had watched CATS, Mouse probably would not think it was a good thing (I would though – I love that Rum Tum Tugger).
The biggest takeaway I had from this film was how much I preferred the Artful Dodger, our pickpocketing youngster cameo, to our purported hero Oliver. Oliver seemed unabashedly pitiful Continue reading