Friday, October 8, 2010

Dazzle Them!

42nd Street is a backstage musical that uses the medium of cinema to get the audience involved with making a theater performance while trying to dazzle them at the same time. The film addresses the viewer by allowing them to go behind the scenes of a theater show and then ending with a grand performance to astonish them. It’s as if the viewer were seeing how this movie was made possible throughout the strenuous rehearsals, financial and relationship problems. As Feuer explains in the Pattullo article, the audience experience “double identification” and “demystification” (p.75) are present in backstage musicals. This movie wants the viewer to feel like they are a part of the process of putting on a performance while also putting on a final show for the audience, thus providing a spectacle for the audience. We, the audience, get to see how hard it is to make a film and thus feel that we are actually involved in making the film. However, when they are practicing for the final showing the camera tends to be placed right where the audience would sit. It even pans around to show us a few of the audience members sitting there with us. This represents the ‘double identification’ of the audience. 42nd Street then performs the final showing in which demonstrates as the demystification of the audience. We were allowed access that showed how this theater performance was put together but are then exposed to so much more that we didn’t see and are given private access to the final show. This occurs when we watch the finale from the audience stand point, however, the camera then gives us different angles, which the audience wouldn’t get. We are taken above the stage, go through the dances legs, and get close up profiles of the two main characters at the end. We were demystified when learning how the show was done, but then were hit again with a spectacle that we were only allowed to see, thus breaking us a part from the normal viewing audience present watching the performance. This film, and backstage musicals during the 1930’s, used the medium of cinema to present an insiders look to the art while at the same time preparing them to ultimately be dazzled by the production they just watched come to fruition.

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