There is a myth that the movie musical is a genre characterized by exceptional lightness and templateness. Its attributes are indeed recognizable and simple. However, behind the apparent predictability, space for imagination and ground for reflection hide. Here are the best musical movies, each of which contributed to the genre.
Paris at the end of the 19th century. Poor writer Christian, wandering around the city in search of inspiration, finds himself in Moulin Rouge, the epicenter of beauty, freedom, and debauchery. One look is enough for the young man to fall in love with the courtesan, Satine. However, the girl already has a rich and powerful suitor who is sure that even love can be bought and doesn’t intend to suffer defeat. That’s why, if you were betting professionally, you would never choose Christian as your favorite. But does Satine think the same?
Baz Luhrmann’s movie became a new breath for the musical genre — all thanks to a bold blend of modern pop culture and attributes of the sublime and classical genre of opera. The uncomplicated plot acquires grotesque expressiveness thanks to the riot of colors, kaleidoscope of costumes, and sincerity of the musical parts. Baz Luhrmann has admitted to being inspired by Bollywood cinema, with its bulging expressiveness and visual scope.
La La Land
Mia is an aspiring actress and runs from casting call to casting call daily in search of her role. Sebastian is a virtuoso musician. His heart belongs to jazz, and he dreams of opening a club for fans like him. These two dreamers are brought together by Los Angeles, which offers the hope that anything is possible. However, the two enthusiasts’ desperate desire to share their creativity with the world may become an obstacle to the relationship.
Respectfully and lovingly using all the clichés of the genre, Damien Chazelle achieves a balance between extravaganza and grounding reality, an escape from which is possible only for a while. Memorable melodies for the movie were written by Chazelle’s fellow student Justin Hurwitz, and you’ll want to learn them by heart to sing along in unison with the dreamy characters.
Roxie Hart is enchanted by the world of music hall and dreams of becoming as famous and loved by the public as her idol, Velma Kelly. The two women are brought together not by the spotlight but by the bench. Their fate now depends on the ingenuity of lawyer Billy Flynn, who skillfully manipulates the news and newspaper articles to create the necessary legend for the accused. Velma and Roxy begin a real struggle, not only for a place on the stage but also for Billy’s attention.
Rob Marshall’s criminal attraction looks like a real Broadway performance with mind-blowing musical numbers. The movie recreates 1920s Chicago in color and uses the tools of the musical to focus on the fierce confrontation between two women who will stop at nothing for success. In 2003, the film received thirteen Oscar nominations and won six of them, including Best Picture.
West Side Story
The timeless and saddest tale in the world takes on new life on the streets of 1960s New York City. Everyday clashes between two street gangs gain serious momentum after a night of dancing. A young Puerto Rican girl, Maria, and the charming Tony, the best friend of the leader of the Rockettes, meet for the first time. The couple longs for the confrontation that is hindering their union to end forever.
However, the voices of the two prove to be nothing against the anger of the crowd.The musical by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, based on the 1957 Broadway production of the same name, has become a true classic of the genre. The familiar plot is supplemented with a social context and becomes a mirror image of the times. Thanks to this, the tragedy of two loving hearts on opposite sides of a long confrontation becomes more realistic and painful. The film was shot in a West Side neighborhood slated for demolition, on the site of which Lincoln Center was later built.
Dancing in the Dark
Shy and trusting Selma is an immigrant from Czechoslovakia who has moved to the American wilderness with her son. Every day, she works in a factory and does her best to hide her developing blindness from others. All the money she earns she raises for her son’s surgery, who is at risk of losing his sight just like his mother. On this difficult path, Selma will meet both sympathetic and understanding people and confused egoists.
The painful drama by renowned Danish provocateur Lars von Trier experiments with genre clichés and the sensual response of the viewer. Björk not only played the lead role but also wrote the soundtrack for the musical. The musical numbers are organically born out of the heroine’s surroundings as she immerses herself in dreams of her favorite musicals. Toward the finale, the contrast between the usual rainbow mood of musical movies and the brutality of the story reaches a peak and leaves the viewer alone with an unbearable silence.
The Sound of Music
The eve of World War II. Maria, an orphan, is brought up in a convent and plans to become a nun.However, the girl’s mischievous temper raises doubts among the abbesses that this path is suitable for her. In order for the novice to learn more about life and better understand herself, she is arranged to work as a governess in the family of sea captain von Trapp, who raises seven children. Life-loving Maria will have to find the key to the hearts of the strict owner of the house and the little tomboys.
The movie adaptation of the legendary Broadway musical, directed by Robert Wise, is a hymn to the saving power of art. Even hard times and difficulties in relationships are easier to endure thanks to a good melody sung to your neighbor. The language of music is universal and understandable to everyone, so the uplifting picture won the love of both strict critics and the mass audience. This was witnessed by record box office receipts and numerous awards, including the Oscar for Best Film.