70s8. Genre and Mise en Scene in Cabaret

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70s8. Genre and Mise en Scene in Cabaret

  1. 1. US Cinema of the 1970s: Genre and Mise-en-Scene in Cabaret Prof. Julia Leyda September 10, 2013
  2. 2. the musical genre  defined by its form: a movie with several musical production numbers  typical plot patterns  backstage musical: main characters are singers and dancers performing for an audience in the story (Moulin Rouge)  straight musical: people sing and dance in “ordinary life,” not for a show in the story (The Wizard of Oz)  often a romance plot and/or children’s story  often brightly lit with crane shots and high angles
  3. 3. the historical film  usually focuses on an important event, era, or character  attempts to portray the time period authentically through mise-en-scene, especially costumes, hair and makeup, and props  emphasizes personal or cultural values important at the time when the movie is made; sometimes revisionist  focalizes the big picture of history through a few carefully developed individual characters, allowing audiences to feel emotionally involved in events of history that may seem dull in textbooks
  4. 4. social function of genre  reflectionist: at certain times in history, the stories, themes, values, or imagery of the genre reflect social attitudes  be careful not to overemphasize the reflectionist approach in your analysis  remember the industry’s profit motive in production decisions that give the people what they want  popular movies both express and influence social attitudes, and not always accurately
  5. 5. Cabaret (1972) won 8 Oscars including director, actress, supporting actor, music  backstage: set at the Kit Kat Klub, but only one main character is a performer  historical: set in Weimar Republic 1931, just before the Nazi era  shot on location in East and West Germany  Bob Fosse, director and choreographer  choreography: jazz dance with turned-in knees, sideways shuffling, rolled shoulders, and jazz hands  costume and prop motifs: bowler hats, gloves, canes, chairs
  6. 6. Cabaret as revisionist musical  not bright: dark, decadent, adult / sexual atmosphere  not for kids: cynical romance, adultery, gigolos / golddiggers, also features transvestites, gay characters  dark themes of nihilism / hedonism, ignoring reality  ominous historical / political subtext of anti-Semitism and Nazi rise to power in pre-WWII 1930s Germany  not happy ending
  7. 7. sexually promiscuous lifestyles
  8. 8. bisexual love triangle
  9. 9. Nazi party gaining support
  10. 10. Natalia: victim of anti-Semitic terror
  11. 11. red communist symbol in background
  12. 12. spoofing militarism in performances
  13. 13. ambiguous politics of performances
  14. 14. ending: in the distorted mirror…
  15. 15. ominous ending: “life is a cabaret”--?
  16. 16. discussion questions  Discuss the musicals Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Cabaret (1972) in terms of genre conventions and revisionism. Compare them to other musicals you have seen.  How does Cabaret (1972) compare with our other historical film, Chinatown (1974)? How authentically do they portray their respective settings?  How do these pairs of movies reflect the social attitudes of the 1970s? Are they similar in these ways to other movies we’ve discussed this semester?
  17. 17. costume in cinema  sometimes aims for realism and authenticity, other times for expressiveness and exaggeration  conforms to contemporary body shapes and sense of fashion  contributes to the visual style in color, texture, movement  expresses a character’s personality (aggressive, shy, masculine, feminine) or identity (class, nationality, etc.)  matches or clashes with other characters and with sets and decor
  18. 18. costume: men’s style
  19. 19. costume: hats
  20. 20. costume: hats
  21. 21. costume: mannish style
  22. 22. costume: closeup, political costume
  23. 23. hair and makeup in cinema  emphasize actor’s expressiveness: eyes, eyebrows, mouth  express personality: naturalistic, theatrical, more for performers  character’s relation to fashions of their time: trendy or classic, classy or tacky, showy or understated?  create resemblance to historical characters, or emphasize resemblance to other stars (including relatives)  make characters attractive or less so depending on their function and role in the story
  24. 24. hair and makeup: in performance
  25. 25. hair and makeup: theatrical
  26. 26. hair and makeup: naturalistic
  27. 27. hair and makeup: sleeping in makeup
  28. 28. hair and makeup: less makeup, Judy
  29. 29. discussion questions  Discuss the way hair and makeup in Cabaret support the themes and meanings of the film.  How do you think the costumes in Cabaret were seen in the 70s? As authentic or as anachronistic?  Did the hair and makeup and/or costumes in Cabaret remind you of any of the other films we’ve discussed so far? In what ways?

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