rr-4 - Rick Altman American Musical notes For March 9, 2011...

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Rick Altman American Musical notes For March 9, 2011 Chapter 8—The Folk Musical A. Introduction 1. Mythical vision of the folk musical grapples with a lived reality, transformed by the power of memory. As a mediatory factor (between real and unreal, between present and past) memory is far less stable than either art or dreams. . .it is in the folk musical that the genre film’s general tendency to glorify the past reaches its highest point. Yet memory can also reproduce the past faithfully. . .Suspended between observation and dream vision, memory is the perfect—if unstable— mediatory factor for a subgenre simultaneously grounded in the American heritage and the American myth. (272) 2. “Observation and dream vision, the two components of memory, define quite clearly the limits of the folk musical subgenre” (273) a. semantic folk musicals: stress picturesque almost to the exclusion of observed reality; quasi-utopian musicals of the thirties b. musicals of the sixties & seventies “that so stress the realistic aspect of American life that they threaten to abandon the musical’s stylized nature all together” ( Change of Habit, Nashville) (273) B. Semantic Elements of the Folk Musical 1. Emphasis on family groupings and home separates it from the show and fairy tale traditions 2. couple cannot survive without community (often the nuclear family but some times a substitute family, like faculty and students in a college) ) 3. the presence of more than one generation facilitates the doubling of the youthful romantic couple(s) with an already married couple whose relationship is rejuvenated during the film; older generation reassures the audience of the ability of young people to remain sensitive to romance years after the glow of courtship has faded 4. interchangeability of romantic and family ties 5. settings: 1. small town or agricultural setting; family residence is setting; stable and constant background of action but also permanent reminder of the strength and stability of American family and home 2. typical folk musical set represents the American scene as transformed by the popular arts (Thomas Eakins, Grant Wood) 3. conventionalized realism in which the conventions are borrowed from the vocabulary of American regional art (postcards, engravings, calendars, magazines, photographs, paintings and films) 4. some use of location photography a. King Vidor’s Hallelujah (1929) used extensive location photography b. Folk musical combines perceived reality and compensatory memory vision; landscapes may be perceived through other popular genres, such as the western (John Ford)
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c. Goal:
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rr-4 - Rick Altman American Musical notes For March 9, 2011...

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