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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #16 (From FUNNY GIRL)

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1.  Her subtler.movements and singing made the song "People" more expressive.  I feel if she had used broader stage like movements it would have detracted from the song.  Her singing is more sudued, which carries more meaning than if she had belted out the song.

2.  He doesn't speak during her singing, instead looks longingly at her.  Streisand does the same to him.  It conveys more meaning this wa than if he had been singing along with her.

3.  The entire scene is lit and boxed as to emphasize Streisand's performance.  Though the man is shown at.different points in the scene reacting to her, it continues to focus on her

 

 

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I love the intimacy of this performance.  Belting it would take away from what I feel is a seduction by Fanny of Nicki. Yes, she is asking the questions of herself, but she is also drawing him in to her in a very sensual, quiet way. The performance has him gazing at her. He is being seduced, and she is slowly engaging him. He slowly follower her as she moves up the street. When she sings about lovers, she literally leans into Nicki's direction. She sings, "one very special person" and the camera angle has Omar in the background making clear he is that person as is she for him. He gazes at her, and she concludes the song and turns to him standing halfway up the stairs. The stair rail is still between them. They start as separate people with goals that make them lonely. By song's end, they both seem to have opened up to one another in body language. Whether it is the idea of love as sung by Streisand, or actually attraction to one another, the blocking has a subtle back and forth movement by both actors' bodies that is not overt but exceptionally delicate and nearly erotic. Yet the stair rail is still between them. They've not yet made the leap!

If I may be so bold, it is almost foreplay. To belt it out would not be as effective in drawing these two to the precipice of jumping into their relationship. Omar has little to do other than step back and admire Streisand's performance, not get in her way, and have his character open up to her character's idea that needing one special person is beautiful. His gaze at her indicates he's open to her as his very special person. Now rip down that stair well and let them at each other!

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1. If this song was sung more theatrically or belted out, it would have broken the aura of intimacy created by her quiet almost introspective performance.  

2. He has made it clear to her he doesn't want any commitment which creates a distance between them of what he wants and what she wants.  The direction has her walk away from him and even puts railing between them to signify the 'hurdles' that exist between them and Nicky Arnstein is going to have to jump those hurdles and close the distance.  Parts of the song are sung so softly that I wonder if her can even hear her.  Considering that Arnstein was a gambler, using the line that 'people who need people are the luckiest people in the world' is quite interesting.  

3. By having Omar Sharif on the edges of the shots creates not just a distance between them, but also creates a sort of aloneness for Barbra Streisand.  She doesn't even look at him for most of the song and his reaction is hard to see.  If she trying to convince him? is she singing to herself? how introspective is this? I think she's declaring that she doesn't want to be alone anymore and rely on herself alone anymore.  He's made his position clear know she's revealing her innermost desire.  It's very intimate but not in a sexual way.  It's also somewhat sad.   

 

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I love Barbra Streisand's performance of "People" ? I'm glad she wasn't more expressive and theatrical, as I think her performance says enough through the lyrics

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43 minutes ago, Debbie Farthing said:

. By having Omar Sharif on the edges of the shots creates not just a distance between them, but also creates a sort of aloneness for Barbra Streisand.  She doesn't even look at him for most of the song and his reaction is hard to see.  If she trying to convince him? is she singing to herself? how introspective is this? I think she's declaring that she doesn't want to be alone anymore and rely on herself alone anymore.  He's made his position clear know she's revealing her innermost desire.  It's very intimate but not in a sexual way.  It's also somewhat sad.   

That's exactly what I noticed this time – I used to think this was such a corny song about needing to find your soulmate/ there's only one person for you in the world to complete you etc. etc. But I realize now because of how it was staged that she's really alone in this dream, grounded in her upbringing (the gritty city street) and will probably be alone in this dream with him passively looking on at the very end (which we learned was actually true -- she sings about loving her man to the bitter end with him just observing, never reaching out, darn that charming cad Nicky).

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First...I have to say that Barbara does manage to belt out the song at the end. She can’t help it...she’s Barbra Streisand.

I think the scene was meant to show her putting her thoughts into words. She was letting him know how people amazed her. Fanny wasn’t sure why this handsome, sophisticated guy was even interested in her. This song was sung after her success on stage. I think having Nick watching her in the scene is way of getting him to fall in love with her. As she shares her thoughts with him he becomes more attracted to her personality and her mind.

This part of the movie felt if was lifted from a stage play. The staging didn’t seem to go with the rest of the movie. 

I don’t ever want to see a remake of this movie, but if it ever is restaged on Broadway, I vote for Lea Michelle to play the role. She has the acting skills, the voice and the look to play this role. 

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Barbra Streisand is a master at her craft. She knows exactly what pitch and volume to use in what places to have the maximum effect. She did somewhat belt a few lines towards the end as her emotion was climaxing. At the beginning she sounds timid and unsure. She's likely overwhelmed by the thought of her, Fannie Brice, comic and daughter of a saloon owner , keeping company with someone as dashing, debonair and wealthy as Nick. As she becomes more sure of herself and really starts feeling the emotion her voice grows more solid and sure. I thought it was cute that at the very end, she seems to return to reality and seems a little awkward once again. The dance step is meant to cover that up and to end on a note of her natural funniness.

The song is presumably about people in general but at the same time is a suggestion that the two need each other on some level. Nick can show Fanny a world she has only dreamed about and Fanny can give Nick a good dose of grounded normality, something he has probably never experienced before. There is also an immense physical attraction between the two and that seems to be acknowledge as the music swells and Streisand's vocals intensify.

I have always loved the gown Barbra Streisand wears in this scene. The color is beautiful but not bright or flashy. It is just revealing and form fitting enough to be sexy but at the same time is demure and delicate, perfect for Fannie's inexperience and naivete.  

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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?

I think we would have lost the sense of intimacy in the scene. We know it’s Streisand, and we know she’s singing for an audience, but her audience also has Nicky Arnstein in it—for her and for us.

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

The camera tracks Brice, and Arnstein follows her. Whenever she stops, Arnstein comes into the shot; sometimes the camera stays on him, sometimes it doesn’t. By the time Brice is singing on the stairs, Arnstein is still there, but he’s in the middle distance. We can’t even see the expression on his face, but he is still there. It’s Brice’s song, and she’s singing about her love. It’s not clear that Arnstein returns her love, but he doesn’t leave.

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

See above. I seem to have combined the second and third questions.

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Jules Styne and Bob Merrill’s song “People” is a touching musical piece which goes to the core of humanity’s deep need of connection. Barbara Streisand’s rendition of the song “People” in the film Funny Girl is like a lullaby, smooth and stylized with select phrases stretched out for emphasis.  The orchestration of the violins supports Streisand’s phrasing.  Fanny (Streisand) is singing these lyrics to Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif)—it is a private audience of one, an intimate, romantic expression of affection and connection.  If Fanny belted out the words and performed more theatrically with broad gestures, then she would lose the tenderness and intimacy of the song; she would be performing to a crowd and seeking to reach the persons in the balcony.  This scene is a backstage view of Fanny’s life where she is an individual with a life beyond the footlights, so she does not need to reach the masses with tremendous vocal intensity. She can be soft and delicate in her enunciation of words, and her facial expressions can be subtle and subdued because Nicky is in close proximity to her, and he can detect these nuances of her emotions.

The emotional transitions in this scene are synced fluidly to express the romantic connection between Fanny and Nicky.  They begin in conversation, and then move into the song.  Fannie starts to walk down the alley and turns back to face Nicky and again turns to walk again.  It is interesting that she leads this lyrical discussion and Nicky follows like a child.  Fanny stops at the railing just before the stairs as she begins the song’s main refrain.  Her stroking the railing is an indication of her desire to touch his face, to be intimate, but they remain about four feet apart—conforming to the social conventions of distance while in public places.  They are the “people” who the song is about; they are “Lovers..very special people…the luckiest people in the world” because they have found each other.  Then Fanny mounts the stairs of the brownstone to a little “stage” where Nicky can admire her beauty and talent.  He is the sole observer of her emotional performance.  Fanny closes her eyes at moments when she is singing as though she is speaking to herself alone.  She phrases “one person/One very special person” in a pause and a slower pace to emphasis that Nicky, he is that one very special person for Fanny.

 The blocking of Fanny and Nicky’s closeness in the conversation and their distance when she sings on the steps show the dance and tension of emotions they share—verbal rapport, delight with each other through laughing and smiling, doubt as to whether each one is responding to the other.  This song represents a testing of their relationship.  Will they go deeper and closer in their mutual affections?  Do they indeed have a mutual affection for one another? The long shot demonstrates their two separate identities while also displaying the potential for their union. Fanny is well-lighted given that she is the principal focus as the singer of the tune, but Nicky is also clearly distinguished but in a more muted tone.  Fanny is the center of admiration on her pedestal, but given the city landscape, she is not presented as an unreachable individual for Nicky.  It is a very romantic scene without succumbing to saccharine sentimentality.

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I feel like it has already been established within the curator's notes on this scene, but if Streisand were to belt out this performance it would lose the emotionally vulnerability her character should be displaying. If she were to go "full Barbara" on this song, it would seem less a confession and instead would seem as if her character was acting a part as in her stage performances. 

 

One thing I did notice, for a song that is about one character's desire for another character (or any person for that matter) Streisand spends a great amount of time not even addressing Sharif's character. It's a little off-putting and almost makes me believe that she might as well have "belted" the song out for the world, or at least Sharif given his not so close proximity, to hear. Perhaps, Wyler could have achieved even greater results had she addressed Sharif with the emotion the song's lyrics suggest, but he's William Wyler so what do I know? :)

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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?

Having seen a few videos of Streisand performing “People” live, I do not see how she could possible belt this number more than she does in the film.  However, her rendition here is more “muted,” as it needs to be within the context of the larger film, I think.  Once, again I am at a disadvantage because I have not seen the entire film as of this posting.  But based on what I have seen, it seems that Fanny sings the song to Nick as an invitation to be with her, even though they are both individuals. “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”  Being more expressive and theatrical would have removed that intimacy from the number and the message she was sending him with her words.  I may be wrong—it has happened before—but I think that being more expressive would have made this less of a “love letter” or an invitation to Nick.

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

Even before Fanny begins to sing, there seems to be sadness in her eyes while they are discussing how each of them is lonely for different reasons.  Then she seems to look longingly at Nick even as she is walking away, turning back to face him when she stops on the sidewalk just before ascending the stairs.  Also while on the sidewalk, the glances she gives Nick are her way of saying she is not as happy as the people she is singing about, and she is hinting that it is Nick whom she wants in her world.  Nick has stopped following her at that point, creating a greater physical distance between them, as well as an emotional distance between them?  While Fanny is on the steps, there is a bit of “playfulness” to her performance as she smiles and evens laughs a bit when singing about how lucky these different groups are, whether they are children or lovers.  She seems to want these things and it seems she is hoping Nick does as well.

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

It seems I already answered much of this question in number two above.  However, beyond that I will say that the blocking and editing tell us this is Streisand’s song, unlike say “You Are Woman, I Am Man,” which was clearly Sharif’s number where he actually sings to Fanny whereas Fanny sings her inner thoughts.  There are more close-ups of Streisand as the song progresses so we can see the emotions she is feeling and trying to convey to Nick.  Yet there are occasional shots of Nick as he reacts to her words.  Based on both of their facial expressions, despite the physical distance in the scene, it seems both characters wish to bridge the physical gap, as well as any emotional gap?

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1. Had Straisand sung “People” more theatrically, the song would have lost its intimacy. Sung as is, people can connect with it better because it conveys a vulnerability inside each of us.

2. Omar stays in the background, but as Straisand moves, he is drawn to follow her. Her singing seems to lure him closer. The attraction seems stronger as the singing progresses.

3. The way this scene is filmed is very effective. The distance between Omar Sharif and Straisand allows the viewer to sense a change in their relationship from just physical attraction to a more emotional one. The camera follows Straisand, as Sharif follows, but I noticed that it keeps its distance from Straisand, allowing the audience to see her twist her hands together and see her discomfort and her own vulnerability.

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1. She sings the song contemplatingly - had she belted it, it would have had a very different feeling - more loud, in your face type feeling. As it is, I feel it is sung expressively and theatrically, but in a 'smaller' theatrical way - it's more intimate. Belting a song tends to make it less intimate. Larger movements take away from the lyrics and pure meaning.

2. When she first sings about children she gives a little laugh, as if remembering what it was like to be an innocent child.  Her entire tone and demeanor changes as she begins to sing about lovers - her voice gets softer, her tone and body language are simultaneously feeling the arms of a lover around her as well as being embarrassed about singing about such an intimate feeling/relationship with a man she wishes to share that experience with. Arnstein watches from a distance. You see him move his body just a little towards the end of the song, as if he wants to move towards her, but knows he still needs to keep his distance and slowly let her come back to realizing he's there. 

3. As soon as the song begins Arnstein is her audience. He's following her - we only see his back, as if he's sitting in the seat in front of us in the theatre. He follows her, but not too closely. As she walks up the steps she makes them her stage, and he stays back where he is, taking a seat on the ledge, just watching her, mesmerized. 

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Singing this song in this style makes Fanny seem more vulnerable and appealing. If Barbra had belted it as she did in the theater it would lose its intimacy as a love song. Film requires a more subtle approach.

 

The two characters are clearly attracted to each other with Fanny appearing to be apprehensive that such a guy as Nicki is taken with her and at her own feelings.  Nicki is clearly fascinated with Fannie.

The staging emphasizes the attraction between the  2 characters with their own movement and the camera lingers on Barbra as she sings so we can see her emotion through the number.

 

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As I watched the scene this time, it seemed that Wyler did a good job of navigating Streisand's experience with "belting" the song on stage, directly to the audience, with the needs of the film and specifically this scene, where Fanny and Nick are starting to navigate their feelings.

A previous commenter noted that he always sort of felt sorry for Sharif, having to sit there and do nothing while Streisand sang - and I've always felt the same way.  However, in the opening tracking shot where we see Sharif's shoulder as he follows Streisand as they both walk down the sidewalk, the connection between Fanny and Nick is established.  Though by the end, Streisand is "singing to the audience" as she might do onstage, we know Sharif/Nick is there - and that leaves viewers free to interpret Fanny's lack of eye contact as vulnerability and shyness.

Someone else commented on the art design in this scene - the brown, and Striesand's striking brown gown.  When I first saw the movie as a teenager, I hated the idea of a brown gown (I liked pink!) - but really, the art direction of this scene is perfection.

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1 - I think this clip is quiet, I'd say it's expressive because she shows her emotions here.

2 - Shariff's character behold closely Barbra's when she starts to sing, ao it goes to the end of the clip.

3 - The camera foccus on Barbra in a certain time and then revolves turn around her in the stairs.

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It would have felt less intimate and less believable, more performance driven and not as realistic to the story. The song is a conversation about love between two people, and this comes through in the way the song is performed.

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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?

It would have lost the tender, wistful feeling this performance had. We needed to see/feel the disappointment that this relationship wasn't going anywhere. With a louder and more theatrical performance, it could have turned into either an over-the-top performance or conveyed the wrong emotion entirely.

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

There is very little interaction, just occasional glances.

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

The long two-shot with Streisand in the foreground and a barely recognizable Sharif in the back is really effective at showing just how alone she is and how the relationship isn't going to last. Her movements while singing (hands moving along the railing) accentuate the emotional turmoil she is feeling.

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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?

The song in this scene is supposed to be an intimate moment shared between the two characters as well as an self-examination for Fanny as she's debating over her feelings for Nicky. If Streisand had portrayed it more theatrically, it would've not only lost the sense of intimacy that's being depicted in scene, but it also would have completely changed the meaning of the song from tender and almost whimsical to somewhat garish and impersonal as well. 

 

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

The transitional moments in the scene is when Fanny begins to sing and expresses her feelings of uncertainty and attraction to Nicky. She finds herself relating to him despite the differences in their professions as well as their lifestyles. As the scene progresses, we find her becoming more certain about her feelings for him, but also more unsure of how it all would eventually pan out and whether or not their relationship could actually work. Still, as we watch them begin to establish a connection through out the course of the scene, we then come to the final shot where Nicky is looking on in awe and amazement as Fanny closes the song. Almost as if to indicate, that he can not only relate to her, but could also be experiencing the same sense of conflict as well.

 

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

The direction and editing are everything, especially in a more intimate setting as this. Here, we watch as the two characters establish a connection with on another as their walking down a lonely street. In order to achieve the sense of intimacy that accompanies that, a series of dolly shots were used to make the audience feel as if their walking right along with the characters as they travel down this little street. When the characters stop to share a somewhat intimate sense of conversation, the audience stops along with them to share that moment. A series of stationary shots were used to accomplish that effect. But, the most defining moment in the scene where Streisand hits the peak of the song is probably the most well shot. With of a the use of panning and continuous dolly shot gives the audience a little sense of whimsy and enchantment as Fanny expresses her true feelings for Nicky. By the time the camera becomes stationary again, we see a shot of Nicky looking at Fanny in awe while she expresses her feelings of uncertainty. As she closes out the song, the camera slowly pans in and focuses on her face and then fades to black.

The way these shots are manipulated and used not only give the viewer the same sense of intimacy as the characters, but also draws them into the setting itself. Even though, Wyler mainly keeps the characters separated for the duration of the scene, the sense of isolation makes the characters seem even more appealing despite the perception of conflict that's being projected. The shots also highlight Streisand's ability as a singer and performer by mainly focusing on her throughout the course of the scene. Wyler also manages to capture an element of charm as Streisand sings. It's almost beguiling in a way when you watch the whole scene. I'll admit, even though this was the first time Wyler ever directed a musical, he still manages to showcase his ability as a master director by not only capturing the sense of intimacy that's being portrayed in this scene, but also manages to express the key points of basic human nature in order to create something that truly is enjoyable and entertaining to watch. 

 

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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 Barbra had belted the song in the movie, I think the scene would be compromised. She gave it just enough volume, a lot of texture and emotion. That's what the scene needed. 

 

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Had she been theatrical in all the songs she may have not won the Oscar.  It's a tender moment in the film and she doesn't have to "sing out" to the last row of the balcony.  Simplicity can sometimes be more in a performance.
 

As the song starts she is walking away and towards the stairs of the next building.  She climbs the stairs as if stating she will succeed in showbiz and maybe love.  The way she sings the lyric "Lovers are very special people..."  Note that the word "lovers" is sung low- as if she's embarrassed to relate to Nick in that way.  They're still getting to know each other and "People" sums up that they need, or at least she does, each other.
 

Interesting blocking in that Nick remains leaning on the fence/gate while Fanny moves up the stairs.  The "with one person" shot, she is prominent on the screen right and he is in the back, as if foreshadowing her success and his failure in the future.  Overall, a very poignant and touching scene.

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I think Streisand sung this song people as it was meant to be sung, soft and gentle not belting out the words.  To me it is not the type of song that is sung loudly but gentle like a breeze.   That being said I just have to say how much I enjoyed this course and am sad to see it come to an end.  One last thing as this week we are talking about the 60's and beyond, a musical not mentioned is The Slipper and the Rose which came out in 1976 and starring Richard Chamberlain as the Prince.  I saw this one on TCM a few weeks before this course was even announced and I immediately fell in love with it.  If you have not seen it I highly recommend you do as they occasionally show it on TCM.  However if you do not want to wait for them to show it on TCM, it is available on any roku streaming device under the Pluto TV channel in the category for children.

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Her performance might have seemed unrealistic and over the top if she had been louder and more expressive. Her ability to stay contained and softer in her singing makes it more real and has more emotional depth.

It’s interesting that the song starts with her always moving away from him and keeping a distance. She is framed in the staircase as he watches from the side. She is very involved in her emotions but he is distant and has a bemused expression.

She is singing with her back turned to the camera and turning to sing over her shoulder. She is then set above Nicky on the stairs and separated from him by the railings. The use of the railings to show them each trapped in their own world is an interesting choice.

 

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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?  I’ve never thought this song belonged in the movie.  It feels out of place (yes, I know it was in the Broadway musical).  It’s a lovely song, though, and I can’t imagine it being performed any other way that how Streisand did it.

2.     Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?  The song begins as an extension of their conversation.  The characters are facing each other as Streisand begins to sing.  I always wondered about the distance placed between them.  Perhaps it was meant to demonstrate the tentativeness of their budding relationship?  She walks further away from Sharif as the song progresses until he is out of the frame completely, which seems an odd choice since the song is all about people needing other people.  Also interesting to me is how often she averts her eyes, or closes them completely, as she continues the song instead of looking at Sharif.  As the camera pans back to him, it’s clear he’s been staring/smiling at her the entire time.  Now that I think about it, this question helped me understand why the song never felt right in the context of the story.

3.     How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.  This is clearly all about Streisand (and I don’t mean “as Fanny”).  There isn’t much interaction between her and Sharif here, which contradicts the song lyrics as I mentioned (along with my observations about the blocking and reaction shots) in my answer above.  Her performance is elegant and lovely, but the camera is mostly focused on her instead of on her and Sharif as a couple.  

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This scene is definitely all about Barbra. Although Omar is in it, he's always in the back--whether literally following behind her as they walk down the street (where we only see his back), or in the background seated on the railing as Barbra belts out "People." During part of the song, Omar doesn't even show in frame; however, Barbra is very much the center of attention at all times, sometimes right in the center of the frame.

Also, Barbra is positioned in such a way that she looks taller than Omar. She steps on the base of the street light at the beginning of the scene, so even when Omar comes up to her face to face, she's taller than he is. Later as she sings, she climbs some stairs while he sits down, making her look much larger and more important than he, which foreshadows exactly what happens in their relationship later in the movie.

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