Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #16 (From FUNNY GIRL)

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A Thank You to Our Faculty in This Great MOOC
Perhaps this adds a nice coda:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFVxX3RtyhQ

 

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1. If Streisand had performed the number the way she did on Broadway, it would lack the vulnerability the film version has. In the film, you get the sense that she's singing this more to herself than to Nick. In fact, when she's done with the song, she opens her eyes and almost startlingly looks at him as if she forgot he was there, immediately becoming embarrassed. Adding her signature belting to this would've also made it less special since she belts at the end of "I'm The Greatest Star," "Don't Rain on My Parade," and "My Man." That structure makes sense because those are her opening, middle, and closing numbers. "People" would've thrown that balance off, and its quietness is less about making a show and more about revealing something from deep inside her. 

2/3. The song eases through two emotions. It starts off light, casual, and a little fun as Fanny notes how ironic it is for them to be in the positions they're in and what others must think of them. During this, she idly interacts with her surroundings, and Nick is amused as he follows her. Henry Street as presented here is isolated, but safe. The quaint quality of it highlights what Fanny says earlier about everyone looking out for each other, but the fact that she and Nick are alone highlights the point of the song. The camera keeps him on on the left of the frame and her on the right. This is an interesting choice because, naturally, people tend to read a frame from left to right. Putting Nick on the left keeps him in the audience's eye even though Fanny is the focus. 

As the song delves deeper into Fanny's psyche, however, she stops on the stairs, elevated above Nick. The two are now further apart than they ever have been up to this point. While the camera focuses on Fanny for the majority of the number, Nick still lingers on in the back left, still reminding us of his presence, and Fanny momentarily remembers, too, as she glances at him during the lyric "One very special person." His reactions to her sudden opening up of herself help ground the sequence. Fanny is in a zone all of her own, but Nick is clearly falling for her in a way far deeper than the initial curiosity and interest he had when he asked her out.

Fanny is lit in a way where she's glowing, giving her a sort of ethereal look as she's singing about the human condition and highlighting how she's on a sort of separate plane. She wrings her hands together seemingly because she's self-conscious and probably also partly because she's analyzing herself properly for the first time thanks to Nick. It's a magical sequence with a sort of delicate nuance about it, making it one of my all-time favorite moments captured on film. 

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1. Even though both say they’re too busy for others, Streisand singing People say the exact opposite. The beginning is almost a hush I trying to get her feelings out. As she explains it further she is gently but with a gradually louder and more emotional voice. It rises to almost a fever pitch and shouting to the world her feelings. Then she ends it in a much lower voice, which one could imagine tears. 

2. The scene begins with the two discussing how busy they are. They are close then as Streisand starts to sing she walks away from him. At that point she is center stage with Shariff either out of the picture or in the background. As the song ends they are much closer with the feeling the two of them will be together. As another mentioned she doesn’t look at him for the fear of crying. By walking away from him she can say what needs to be said. 

3. The colors are muted to depict Fanny as unsure of herself with her feelings and life. The blocking shows in the beginning they were near each other then as the song progresses it block Nicky out of the picture. It gives Nicky a different look at her as a person and not just a performer. That reminds me of the shot in Ziegfeld where the real Fanny comes out for a rehearsal dressed up and Ziegfeld puts her in rags. He doesn’t see her as a,person with feelings but an object for his plays. 

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With the exception of one cutaway, the director lets the actors "act."  The camera movement is subtle and unobtrusive, allowing Streisand to use her talent and charisma to carry the scene without distracting cuts and edits.  The audience, like Omar Sharif, is mesmerized by Streisand and her performance.  No need for her to "belt" out the song.  This is a great example of talent, direction, camerawork, sound, lighting, etc. combining to produce a wonderful scene in a movie.

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In the take funny Girl Fanny and Nick start out together as the song starts out as she speaks but then goes into the song he disappears into the background almost until the end of the song then he is back, . They do have a relationship but not until later. l cannot commit on the other things l did not pay that  much attention on those things. l was more interested in her singing. l love the movie Funny Girl and watch it when ever it is on. L am sorry he was such a gambler. 

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Performing the song in this way, instead of belting it out with big arm movements, makes Fanny appear more vulnerable, more relatable to the audience. We all need people in our lives. The more subtle performance puts the emphasis on the meaning of the lyrics. It also makes for a powerful connection between the characters. He stares longingly at her while she is pouring her heart out with the song. The use of very little light also adds to the emotion of the scene- it is just the two of them, alone- the rest of the world has all bit stopped. 

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The pure warmth of this song and how Barbra sings it is absolutely beautiful. The lack of edginess in the singing and even the camera angles bring a richness to the scene. And having Omar Sharif just quietly observing from a short distance yet still in the shot shows how awed he was of her. Absolutely beautiful scene...

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There are some things that I just have to say about Funny Girl (yes, I’m slightly behind in my class work). 

1. In the lecture video Rystrum (sp?) says that Fanny chose her career over Nick, but I have to disagree with that. She let him go because she knew it was what he wanted, but she made it sound like she agreed. She does this earlier in the film when he comes back from Kansas having lost everything. Before he even says anything, she knows and says the house is inconvenient to the theatre. While it may be, she loves that house, you know this from the care she took in making it a home for them. But she indicates she wants to get an apartment in the city - giving Nick the opportunity to save face. She does the same thing at the end. She knew from the moment she saw him that he felt the same way he had before going to prison. Had he greeted her the way he did when she showed up on the boat, everything would have been different. She would have left show business and would have made their life together work. But he didn’t greet her like that. He barely even hugged her, let alone kissed the daylights out of her. She knew it was over, so in order to let him not feel like the bad guy, she said he was right and that she wanted to stay on the stage. She didn’t make that choice, he did when he let his pride take over and began to resent her rather than support her. 

2. I’m not sure if anyone out there watched the show Glee when it was on, but now whenever I see Funny Girl I think of that show. One of the main characters, Rachel, loved Barbra and wanted to be just like her, so every choice she made was with the goal to make it to Broadway. She does and is cast as Fanny Brice in a Funny Girl revival. However, in the actors’ real lives at this same time, one of the other actors, Cory Monteith who played Finn, was struggling with substance abuse. He and Rachel, Lea Michelle, were a couple on the show as well as in real life. He ended up overdosing a few years ago while Rachel was still in the stage show. Lea took that loss and pain and channeled it so beautifully and so movingly into the final song that I think she gives Barbra a run for her money at the end. While Barbra is reacting to her character’s pain, Lea had the devastation from both her character’s loss as well as her personal loss. It’s heartbreaking, but phenomenal. 

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1. How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?

Had this song been sung less tenderly and emotionally, the entire meaning of it would have been lost. Fanny has fallen in love with an exciting but dangerous man. She has feelings wound up inside of her she fears will be unrequited. Nick clearly is not the type of man who will devote his entire heart and sole to another person, especially one woman. Fanny feels she must let Nick know how she feels and why he should feel the same way towards her. If there ever was a time for the soft sell, this would be it.

2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?

Whether the director wanted to spotlight Streisand in this scene or was merely trying to emphasize the diametrically opposite attitudes the characters had about relationships, the result is a minimal amount of interaction between Fanny and Nick once the song begins. They start out laughing on the outside, but on the inside Fanny sees she is in one place and Nick is in another. The song is meant to bring Nick over from the dark side to the light. Through the song, Fanny is actually pouring her heart out to Nick, revealing her innermost emotions and professing her love for him. Those few times the camera cuts back to Nick during the scene, he has a facial expression that could just as easily be reflecting amusement as opposed to love. He is absorbed in her singing, never gazing away from her, but never really changes his expression much or attempts to move physically closer to her. He is a man who tends to keep his distance from romantic love and continues to do so throughout the entire song. At one point, Fanny puts her hand down on a fence railing at the same time as Nick does. That's the closest they get once the initial dialog has been spoken.

3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.

It is clear throughout this scene that Fanny wants Nick to get closer to her emotionally. As the scene progresses, she is leading him down the street and he is following -- to a point. As they move onto the sidewalk and down the street, the shot is taken from behind and over Nick's shoulder which puts the audience's focus on Fanny, who is the only character who faces the camera as they start walking down the street. She leads Nick as far as the railing, but when she continues down the street to the stoop, he remains in place at the railing. The shots back towards him from behind Fanny emphasize the distance that remains between them, both physically and emotionally, throughout the second half of the song. In the end, she has emptied her soul and laid herself bare before him and there is Nick still standing where she left him when she first moved down to the stoop for the second half of the song. Fanny has tossed Nick a lifeline to reel him in and he has chosen not to grab on. Even the cuts to his reaction to the song speak volumes in that he remains a faithful audience, apparently liking what he sees and hears, but there is no indication in his face that he is buying into what she is selling. The last 45 seconds of the scene Fanny is stage front and Nick remains in the distant background, keeping his distance throughout and emphasizing the imbalanced nature of their relationship. In the last 45 seconds, the camera begins to zoom in on Fanny to the point that Nick gets blocked out of the camera shot altogether, ending the scene on a close-up of an emotionally drained Fanny.

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This song is Fanny singing almost a love song to Nick.  Both are lonely and standoffish in their own way.  Nick throws money to solve his problems while Fanny becomes busy and has no time for anything else.  If Fanny had sung this song with more gusto it would have ruined the scene.  As you look at Nick and Fanny, you see longing in their eyes for each other.  

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If this song had been belted out, the whole meaning/tone of the song would have been lost and would have affected the scene.  This scene needed to show vulnerability, even hesitation and it did.  At the end of the scene, the actors are still apart even though they have been flirting back and forth during the scene

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The song was very intimate, she was singing her thoughts, but also singing those thoughts to Nicky.  If she had belted it out, and a more robust delivery might be necessary in a theater vs a sound stage, the song would lost some of that intimacy.  

As the scene begins, their share a common thought about how they interact with other people and their is a moment, when Fanny awkwardly and self depreciatingly notes their differences in that commonality, and moves into a soft beginning of the song.  You have to strain to hear her, almost as if she is singing to herself, having a private thought, and then includes Nicky as she embraces that thought. 

The tentative intimacy and yearning of the song between the two is enhanced by the empty street, the dark shadows around then she starts just slightly ahead of him, but always turns back towards him, reaching for him with the words she sings. I especially like the part she partially climbs the stoop and leans slightly down toward Nicky as she sings. 

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1.  In this song, Fanny bares herself to Nicky.  One might do this effectively on stage by belting the song, but in a movie it is more effectively done with quiet moments.  The quieter approach that Streisand uses here is more introspective as she discovers her need for a relationship.  The more theatrical approach, which is wholly appropriate to the stage, especially in a theatre the size of the Winter Garden where Funny Girl played, is more a general statement of how we all need personal connections.  In the film, she stresses introspection and vulnerability.  She ends the song by belting out the final lines, suggesting that her moments of introspective discovery are over and she is now proclaiming what she has concluded about herself.

2.  All of Streisand's gestures and movements convey her vulnerability at opening up to Nicky, whom she doesn't really know very well at that moment.  She turns away from him as she opens up.  She avoids eye contact, looking back at him only occasionally.  Meanwhile, he is fascinated and interested in her, keeping his gaze on her as she opens up.  When the song is over, there is no doubt that they have reached a new level in their relationship.  They are still getting to know each other, but she has taken an important step (and risk) that deepens their relationship.

3.  At the beginning of the scene, a column divides the screen into two, putting her on one side and him on the other -- a visible barrier that separates them, even as he talks about how having many relationships keeps him free.  As they find common ground in loneliness, they move closer together.

As Fanny sings about how they are like children, a reaction shot of Nicky is shot from above, making him seem smaller and less significant.  As she sings about lovers, the camera is focused on her as she opens up (it must be hard to convey intimacy on the wide screen) before it pans to show Nicky in the background and includes him in the section on lovers.  Finally the camera zooms in on Fanny as she finishes her moment of introspection, and (probably not coincidentally) as superstar Streisand concludes what has become her signature song.

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I loved Glee! And I wanted to be Babs and go to Broadway when I was that age too ? but I didn't remember that she was in the Funny Girl revival at that time... Very poignant and sad. However, yes, it all comes through in the work and her interpretation of Streisand standards are mind blowing.

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3 hours ago, SRG said:

Unlike theatre, film magnifies the emotion, so for Streisand to belt the song and be more theatrical would have made the emotions exaggerated and over the top and we wouldn’t feel as compassionate towards Brice in this number.

Exactly.  Stage and screen have very different ways of expressing the same emotions.  What worked for Streisand so well on stage would not work so well in the movie.  It is to her credit either that she instinctively understood this or that she trusted her direction.  Either way, she adjusted her performance for the medium when she easily could have done it the way that had always worked for her.

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I think that the mood of the song fit perfectly into the scene. It was an intimate scene between the two characters, slightly romantic, and if she had belted the song, it would have completely changed the mood. Though capable, she kept it restrained and appropriate for the scene. The song's rendition kept the scene from almost feeling forced because, as I perceived, there was romantic energy between the two characters. That energy continues despite the space between them growing larger, and I feel this is helped by the song. 

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AHHH!  One of the most perfect moments in musical film.  I tear up every time I hear her sing this, even with just audio!  The reason for that is the quality of expression and inflection in her interpretation of the song.  She moves from a very self-conscious, flat tone at the beginning, to a mellow, thoughtful middle, and on to a full-throated, confident end.  This cabaret style singing it what Streisand does best, and I can't even imagine anyone else producing this touching moment.

Streisand's performance is enhanced by the lighting, which is dark, lamp-lit.  She is highlighted on her face, neck and arms, so she stands out from the dark.  There is one moment when she is holding the railing that looks almost balletic in pose.  Shariff is kept in shadow, turned toward her, and we follow them down the street.  He seems at first amused, then silent as he is captivated by her.  It's just a beautiful scene.  Can you tell I'm a fan?

I think a lot of the new musicals are too loud with songs that are easily forgettable (there are exceptions).  We will never forget "People".

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  1. 1.  How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?

Have not seen this movie for a long time, the thing I noticed is that for me, I think she should have been more theatrical and expressive... even belting the song out more.  What I seemed to been drawn to is her hang wringing while she was singing on the stairs, making me feel that she was very nervous... and perhaps it was intended that way due to her singing about people needing people.

  1. 
  2. 2.  Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?
  3.  
  4. Omar’s character is looking and listening to what Barbara’s character is singing and saying within the song.  He really looks like he is taking it all in to heart.  This said, this is a bit of a hard sell for me - the song is lovely but it’s hard to see them really connected.
     
  5. 3.  How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.

The focus is really entirely on her while Omar’s character is in the background... you do feel the emotion of the song and I like the setting.  I don’t feel particularly drawn into the scene. Having her move down the street on onto the stairs is a nice touch but I think she should have kept moving somewhere rather then wring her hands.  Love this son though... really timeless.

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1) How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?

If she had been more theatrical, then the execution wouldn't have been realistic nor honest. The emotion would be lost and the scene overall wouldn't feel as personal nor fluid. It would have been just another typical musical number.

2) Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?

There is an obvious attraction between Fanny and Nicky. The more she sings, the more drawn he is to her. He is attracted to her emotion, transparence, and personality. She is attracted to his strength, stoicism, and wit. They are smitten with each other, and the way that both Streisand and Sharif, brings out the authenticity of the moment.

3) How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.

As Streisand is walking away, Sharif follows her, but keeps his distance. He is in love with her, but allows her her space. There's always something that will come between them, but they want each other. She isn't sure that the relationship will work, but she certainly willing to try. I don't know about the blocking, but as from the reaction shots, she is falling in love with Sharif. However, he doesn't take her light away. She is the center of the scene, and the audience knows that. Say what you will about her persona, but 'Babs' is definitely charismatic and instantly watchable.

 


 

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1. A more theatrical performance wouldn't have worked because in this scene, Fanny isn't "performing". She's sharing her feelings with Nicky.

2. Nicky looks on in interest while Fanny avoids contact with him while singing, like she's off in her own little world.

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  1. Streisand’s performance of this song is perfect for this situation. The situation in which the song is presented along with the lyrics call for a subtle approach. If it was belted, the volume would distract from the message. 
     
  2. & 3. These two characters are clearly attracted to each other but are playing the long game. As He moves closer to her, she moves away. Eventually she has the high ground and finishes her thought. This says to me that she is in control of the situation while he is going with the flow.

 

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Posted (edited)

1. How might Streisand’s performance of the song “People” have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more?

Fanny is hesitant at first, implying the "a great guy like you is talking to a nothing girl like me" dichotomy that affects her relationship with Nicky for a long time.  She's quietly explaining her feelings to him and beginning to realize them herself.  In the arc of the show, one wants to build to the loud self-expression of "Don't Rain on My Parade" and the emotional journey of "My Man".

2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?

Fanny gets braver singing/telling her feelings to Nicky, and he becomes more entranced by this funny and eloquent young woman.  Her "I guess we're both happy...but maybe we ain't" is a kind of dare to him to rethink his statement about preferring to be single and free.  

3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.

The camera moves with Fanny as she "moves along" with her thoughts about "people" in general and the two of them in particular.  The moody night street lighting outside the party reflects the quiet reflections and realizations Fanny sings about.  

Edited by DAVIDLONG
I chose a better lyric to support the sentence.
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  1. Streisand’s performance of the song “People” may have felt different in the film, had she been more theatrical and expressive, perhaps even belting her song more. It would have taken the intimacy between her and Omar Sharif away to belt out the song. It was important to point out that lovers needed connections with that song so any other delivery would have taken away from that building of intimacy between the characters.
     
  2. Omar Sharif's character is attentive to her but is very distant in the scene. As Barbara Streisand sings, she is very emotional, moves around, wrings her hands, clutches at her heart, etc. 
     
  3. Everything appears to support Streisand's performance. Sharif is in the background but on screen watching her but he keeps his distance. She takes the stairs that are reminiscent of some older Hollywood musical numbers. 

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I am so glad that this is our last clip for this class. I love this movie, and Barbara Streisand is sheer perfection in this roll. From the "grape" skating costume in Second Hand Rose to this beautiful gown and song, I'm sighing, the movie is wonderful. 

  anyway...question 1. People is such a personal song, it has to be sung in a personal way, not belted out to the audience, it is just for Fanny to know, and maybe Nicki, if he's luck, almost an inner monologue. the relationship is just beginning at this point, and though Nicki knows that Fannie is a star, she doesn't realize it yet, so she only sees that Nicki is the star in this relationship, she is madly in love. 

In the beginning, they are together, just leaving the party, and Nicky says he likes to be free, this is the transition where Fanny is expressing her true feelings, but also showing her independence, the camera follows her to the stairs, leaving him in the background to observe. That is the way their relationship goes, she is the star, he is the observer, living in her stardust shadow. But oh what a ride!

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I am sad to see the daily doses come to an end. I think it has been my favorite part of this course. I've added so many of these films to my list to watch.

1. I haven't seen the film, but based on this scene I feel that belting out the tune may not have fit the character she was portraying.

2. The focus is on the Fanny, but we see the Nick following her and then in the background, showing his interest. 

3. I like the subtleness of keeping the Nick in the background, but we can still see his reactions as Fanny displays her thoughts and emotions through song.

 

 

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