The Filmed Musical

Raymond Knapp and Mitchell Morris

in The Oxford Handbook of The American Musical

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385946
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Filmed Musical


The article focuses on the specific historical contributions of filmed musicals and examines selected areas of intersection between stage and screen. The four significant domains of filmed musicals are mise-en-scène covering all aspects of the “look” within the film's frame that include setting, whether specially constructed or found in the everyday world, and lighting, both artificial and natural. Another domain is cinematography that involves three things such as photographic qualities of the shot such as color, hue, speed, perspective, framing, or the way that the borders of the particular image focus viewer attention, particularizing the image, and duration, or “take” that is the length of the camera's view of a specific scene before cutting to another. Another domain is editing that depends on qualities of the mise-en-scène and cinematography. The narrative sound film typically maintains the illusion of reality through deploying its combination of images and sounds so as to seem natural to audiences, whether by directly simulating experienced reality or by following familiar conventions of cinematic storytelling. Musicals adjust the default aesthetic of cinematic realism at nearly every turn, because in musical numbers characters appear to sing and dance their feelings in open violation of the restrained acting fostered by cinematic realism.

Keywords: filmed musicals; cinematography; photographic qualities; framing; editing; narrative sound film

Article.  8130 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »