Saturday, 11 February 2012

Singing in the (G)rain

Inevitability a life long love of Singing in the Rain (1952) will probably mean I end up writing my flipping essay about it....apologies in advance.

Some random clips, notes and trivia....

Don and Lina are thrust from the safety of silence into the talkies. Their emergence from a mute state lends something uncomfortable to their spectacular status. It's not simply a case of turning the volume up on business as usual (although Lena comments positively "It sounds good and loud!") - somehow the revelation of their voices creates something of a 'generalized catastrophe in the sphere of gestures' as Agamben would say. ('Notes on Gesture' in Means without End: Notes on Politics). The voice PLUS the expressive body creates an unbearable over-spill that is not so noticeable when they are silent and the body has to compensate. The voice is plus de corps: both the surplus of the body, a bodily excess, and the no-more body, the end of the corporeal" as Dolar puts it. (AVANM p71). It is more than - so contaminated with presence and meaning that the body and voice end up working against one another even when technically in sync as in the clip. 

A slightly daft aside but came to mind in reference to Tristam's discussion of vowels and consonants in relation to the Barker text. Here Cosmo visualizes the difficulties of getting your face around languages patterns and vowels encased in the codified alliteration of consonants. (0.00 - 0.14 for example - thereafter for pure joy). 

The entire film hinges on the possibility of voices being able to bounce around from body to body. It literally doesn't seem to matter - as long as they can deal with the problem of synchronicity. 

Arguably, Kathy Selden's smooth purr of a voice fits better with the golden, movie star persona than Lina Lamont's own squeaky New York brogue. It's interesting that having experienced the unfortunate  reverse disacousmatisation of her voice in the earlier scenes of the doomed 'Duelling Cavalier' - audiences are willing to accept that while her speaking voice may grate, she was in fact an accomplished songbird all along. Even when she makes her ill-advised speech (raw and unprepared with no dubbing possible) there is still the call for her to 'sing!' telling us more about the transformative possibility of the singing voice that Barthes discusses and that crops up in Kafka's reference to piping - something transporting, soothing and unbound to logos?? A body can be split not only by the voice therefore but also by the mode of the voice..

The crux of the film basically is the general opinion that Lina's voice does not fit in her body and that someone should really do something about it (leaving aside for now the additional fact that Lina's voice sounds totally different inside her own head - an extreme example of which disconnect can be found in this Radiolab podcast) . The real killer for Singing in the Rain is the fact that even this allegoriesd rearrangement and reassigning of voices to bodies is completely constitutive in the making of the film. 

Jean Hagen (the actress portraying Lina) actually had a beautiful voice which was in fact used as the supposed dubbed speaking voice that Kathy gives to Lina. Kathy's own singing voice, the prized discovery that saves the day was actually dubbed for actress Debbie Reynolds by an un-credited Betty Noyes (Noise?!?) The clip "Would You" above actually restores Reynolds' own version of the song. Not quite as good at fit as the disembodied  Noyes but still not far off the mark..

Fall further down the spiral with this snippet of dialogue dubbed in French... 

So, bodies and voices flying around unconnected all over the place. Interesting that they are mainly female voices - is the film telling us that these are are easier to relocate? 

1 comment:

  1. great post, i love a good, or bad, pun! im reading sloterdijks bubbles now and the first chapter is about how god breathed life into clay adam, like respiroceramix.... and how we gaze at the bubbles we blow untill they float into the sun or burst, as breath is us, god and our soul and our vowels, which are wayyyy more breathy than consonants that are horrid, teethy, lippy, verbal, oral things... vowels are spirit, respiro, and soul like.... which is why ventriloquists are so convincing, so long as a soul is with a body thta is enough components for presence......but the asynchronous dub is pure horror, it undoes this..... waffling i know but im tryping on an ipad, i hate em.... oh, on aaaagh there is dolars voice and stone essay, i quite like it, some great examples in there about statues that sing, literally, and the metaphysical implications