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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #16 (From FUNNY GIRL)

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1. I honestly think Streisand being theatrical and belty with the song would have diminished its beauty. "People," as stated previously, is an introspective, not an... extraspective? Streisand's words came from the heart, a deep dive into the contents of the soul that only music can achieve. She's not trying to do a Shakespearean monologue; she's singing about her outlook on life. Going all out vocally and movement-wise would have distracted the audience from the beauty of the song. It's great just the way it is.

2. This is more of a direction thing, but I noticed that when Streisand is starting out the number, she is far less serious with it (one kid falls down and seven mothers faint!). She also happens to be sharing the screen with Omar Sharif; she's just having a laugh with him. As the song shifts into a more flowing melody, and Fanny Brice is having an introspective moment, the focus is all on her - no Sharif, or even that much of the set. It's all Barbara as she delivers her musical soliloquy. Towards the end, when she sings of that "special someone," Sharif comes back into view, and the song turns into a bit of a love confession.

3. Besides the above direction choices, in the beginning we view Streisand over Sharif's shoulder. While he may be in the foreground, the viewpoint is set square on her. She also makes the wise choice of ascending a staircase, because film rules dictate that anyone who goes up stairs must be the center of attention (See: "Stairway to Paradise" from An American in Paris).

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Fanny Brice lived an interesting life, from her burlesque days to her turbulence marriage with Nicky. When she was on stage, she'd give her performances with total emotion from comedic routines to her rendition of My Man. She didn't need to put on an act when she performed, she would do it with total heart. While Streisand performed from the script, although she gave her all, she didn't have the emotional drive behind the story, like Brice had. The song is being sung to Nicky about taking a break from their rocky relationship. She does give it her all and it is empowering as well as with the talented Streisand. I don't think she should belt anymore than she had, the scene is powerful the way it is.

We first see the two sharing a moment together until Fanny leaves to begin singing her thoughts. The focus is mainly on Fanny as she walks and sings, with Nick's back towards the audience. When they finally catch up to each other, Fanny can't keep eye contact with Nick. Here and there she would look at him for a glance, maybe shed a quick smile, before shying away. You can see she is contemplating their relationship and how she feels for him. During her song, Nick never takes his eyes off Fanny, nor does he interject. You can see he is taken by Brice though all her shyness in the song, he lets her part, rather then try to pull her in. You can kind of see a foreshadow of their relationship in this scene as well.

Fanny is making a difficult decision about how she feels about Nick. Though she is apart from him, she still can't turn away from Nick. Occasionally, she would turn and smile at him, but just as well shy away. Though the focus is on Fanny, Nick can still be seen here and there, still included. You can see the back of his head and he is following after her, especially when she turns and physically include him on her thoughts in a line or two and well as a full shot of his, close up and far show of him giving her space and looking on. They both love one another, but unfortunately can't give each other their all to one another. Nick values his space, privacy, and isn't willing to change/or make sacrifices in their relationship, just to keep Fanny by his side. Neither is Fanny willing to give up her career for him, and she made a lot of sacrifices for Nick during their marriage, too many for him to make up for. As they are walking, there are obstacles in their way, like the lamp post and stairs. Instead of following her all the way to the height of the stairs that she was standing on, he stops a building away and keeps his distance. In a way foreshadowing the steps she took to get to Nick, let alone to keep him happy/content. Not only are there long shots and panning of the camera following Fanny movements, there also a few zoom shots of Fanny when she is on the stairs singing out to Nick, as well as a few close up shots of Nick smiling content with her.

 

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1. I think a more theatrical and expressive performance would imbue the scene with a brash confidence and intensity that would have completely disrupted the nuanced emotions Streisand brings to the scene - her shyness, the hesitation, her isolation - and robbed the scene of the beauty expressed in these small details. 

2. Sharif starts out close and trails behind Streisand as she sings, but as the song nears the end, he is at a noticeable distance from her, a gap between them that has not been bridged yet. Streisand, on the other hand, while walking ahead, constantly looks back at him, shyly and with an apprehensive smile. Her body language tends inward and when she reaches the stairs (with railing, a kind of barrier) she makes that space her own and floats around it, allowing the song to reach higher heights, but still turned a little bit away from Sharif, looking forward. The sequence seems to be a melancholic longing for something like love, but also shifts to her facing front towards her future, with Sharif present, but at a distance and easily out of sight. 

3. The filming of the scene bolsters the emotions imbued in Streisand's performance, allowing us to experience it alongside her. The way the camera trails after her, keeping Sharif right at the periphery, the slow zoom in towards her when she reaches the stairs and clings to the railing, the framing of the shot so that she is in the foreground, facing forward (not towards us but towards her future) and Sharif is in the background, still visible but at a considerable distance and not the focus. The camerawork and framing of the setting play so much into Streisand's inner conflict she's expressing through her body language and singing; the emotion in this scene wouldn't be as effective if she was just singing in front of a bland backdrop with flat framing. 

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1.  If she belted her song more it would have taken away from the realism of the scene.  If she belted, the scene would be less believable and more fantasy.

2. In the beginning Streisand is singing to the guy.  Then in the song she loses herself and it becomes singing about herself and her opinions, with the guy still being in the scene, however away from the limelight, moving into the background of the shot.

3. The direction of first following Streisand from a whole body shot and building up to her upper body/face so you can see her facial expressions on the stairs supports her performance to see how she really believes it when she says "people who need people are the luckiest people in the world" showing the audience that she envies them.  

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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?
    There’s such subtely and nuance in her performance. You get the sense that she’s coming up with this on the spot. That’s what the song is meant to do—the repetition of “people” for example harkens to someone trying to finish a thought. She’s expressing a profound idea; she’s not expressing a big emotion, say anger or fear. So belting this out in a showy way would have an entirely different, and frankly, the wrong effect. Here, it’s a tiny realization about what their connection means. it’s personal, it’s small, it’s unexpected.
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?
    I love the subtle movements and reactions. A tiny smile, almost a wink. Small turns to and from each other. He’s always watching, listening. She’s unsure, so sometimes speaking directly to him and sometimes has him at her back, walking away or turning around.
  3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.
    I love that the two characters are not together—they are staged apart in the frame most of the time. They are looking at each other and reacting. He’s following, listening, understanding. She’s at times expressive, at times slightly embarrassed or perhaps wondering if she should be, as she pours out a deeply felt idea that she may not be certain he will fully understand.

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Let me start off saying that this is MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE MOVIE MUSICAL. Every. Single. Time. Babs appears on screen I just get lost in her performance. Her mannerisms, her voice, her over the top reactions perfectly blend together.

If her performance of People was was more loud, theatrical I don't believe it would have the emotional effect as her version reflects. Fanny is a very "loud"/sarcastic character in general but she has a softer side that when it comes out you can't help but fall in love with her.. just like Nick does. 

Both characters are "lonesome" in the sense.. Nick is always traveling to gamble but enjoys the freedom and Fanny performs night after night yet still feels alone. The lyrics meaning fits the both of them; people need other people to survive. Being "alone" in this world.. whether that's physically being along or emotionally alone is very very difficult and unfulfilling. 

I like how the camera follows Fanny as she's walking down the street singing and Nick trails behind.. kind of like he's chasing after her; craving her. The camera zooms in on her when she hits some of those high notes to punch you in the gut. At the end of the song you can see Nick in the background staring at her in awe realizing that her needs her. 

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Daily Dose#16:

1) If Barbra Streisand were to belt this song, I don't believe it would have the emotional impact it has today.  It would be a powerful performance with Streisand's vocals I'm sure but the current performance is more intimate and fits the song more.

2) When I noticed about the two character's interacting is that the focus is on Streisand as Arnstein's looks at her from a distance as he is observing this lonely woman display her private emotions.  He appears pensive as he watches her, but not vocal demonstrating how he keeps his emotions and thoughts to himself.  They are similarily alone but Streisand is the more expressive/emotional one.

3) The direction and editing is quite superb here. I liked how when she is beginning the song, you see her from behind as Arnstein walks behind her.  It's an interesting perspective that hightlights how she "walks alone."  I also enjoy the interesting close up shots of her how she sings with Arnstein in the background.  This enhances the lyrics of the song and how intimate it is.  

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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?

It could feel real and exciting if the song was sung more theatrically, it could be a fabulous crowd scene, but I am glad it is not.  Fanny is in love, yes it could be shouted to the moon, but if I put myself in the shoes of a woman who has never been in love (the way the movie portray her), whose life was about her work, and had a low self image of her appeal to men, through the intimacy of her song we see her for the first time as vulnerable and even scared.  She is not doing what she does,  deflects emotional moments with a joke or some shtick, she is having a realization, a revelation she wants more than a buddy or scene partner, she is in love.

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

Fanny is revealing herself not just to Nick, she is has unveiled something she was unaware of in herself.  She wants to express her feelings, but at the same time, you get a sense of her trepidations. The song builds as she sings about lovers, she is caught up in the rapture of love, then when she sings about a couple that are committed, she regresses to the awkward insecure woman who wants to be loved by this man.

Nick is man of the world, yet he looks on with wonder at this woman as he watches her sort of matures before his eyes.  She is not making a joke or going for a laugh, she has let down her guard and stand before him, vulnerable.  I rather doubt most women who hung around with gamblers went in for a lot of introspection.  He must have felt overwhelmed with her genuineness.

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

Nick and Fanny closest physical interaction is when they share a laugh at the lamppost.  The deeper she goes into her revery, the farther she moves herself away from Nick until she is on a front staircase.  Nick does not take his eyes of of Fanny the whole time.  Fanny's emotions seem to overtake her as she sings out her fantasy of love, her eyes remain closed, she is elevated by her inhibition and you feel the fullness of her heart in her voice.

 

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1.  Brice is not confident at this beginning of the film. She is also quite innocent of the ways of the world. The song must reflect that. The softness of the song along with her movements display the shy uncertainty of her beginning infatuation with Nick.  But, the song is also (we find out, tragically) hopeful about what she hopes the relationship with Nick will be.  I think it shows a foreshadowing of Brice's willingness to too generously forgive Nick's faults (which is really co-dependence). I understand her feeling, and Streisand's acting allows me to feel Brice.  This is beautiful and profound acting. Streisand knew the song must reflect Brice's feeling to the audience.

2.  I believe this is when Nick falls in love with Brice. Just prior to the song, Nick is still being the flirtatious man of the world. By the end of the song, he is looking up at her admiring who she is and seeing himself with her.  I think this is also foreshadowing. He will always be looking up to her and he couldn't live with that.

3.  Nick is moved gently to out of the scene.  When Brice begins singing, Nick's back is to the camera, and since he's in a black tuxedo, he simply fades off left screen as Brice moves center and higher stage toward the stairs.

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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 don't think it would have been as personal if she had belted it out.  
     

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

  • He continually watches her, but she looks away occasionally looking back at him.  
     

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

  • She stands by herself in most of it, she is always in the front and is the focus.  

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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?

To me the reflective nature about what she is feeling would be lost.

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 a lot of physical distance between them. She is guarded by posts and stairs perhaps a representation of how she is guarding her heart as she thinks about pursuing the relationship further. She appears to be reflective…he listens intently and doesn’t take his eyes off of her.

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 go hand in hand with my comment above about the emotional transition moments…physical distance, the use of posts and stairs, break away shots to see he is still looking and listening.

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I haven't read most of the other responses, so I don't know if anyone else has mentioned these points, but two things struck me about this scene.  One was the sign above Sharif's/Nicky's head when he was standing listening to Fanny/Barbra near the end of the song:  it says "NewAge Optical."  These two characters are trying to see each other in a different, nontraditional way.

The second was the use of the stairway railing as an element in the frame.  It cuts diagonally, separating the two characters.  But Barbra is at one end of the railing/line and Sharif is at the other, so it connects them as well.  The railing essentially expresses the ambivalence the two characters have about their potential relationship, as well as the theme of the entire film:  that these two people are connected, yet divided.

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1. I feel as if the medium of film demands a much more intimate connection between the performer and the audience, and for the performance to accurately reflect and be influenced by that demand. In this scene, there is no need for Streisand to play to the rafters, so she can afford to tone down her delivery of the song. The camera allows us to see her emotional transition through the number by zooming in on her face and keeping her in the foreground. We are in her personal space as she expresses her feelings, so belting rather than crooning would be unnecessary and would have an opposite effect; alienating the audience rather than drawing it in.  

2. At the beginning of the scene, we have Sharif and Streisand discuss how their professional lives get in the way of their personal lives, and the nature of the conversation seems very nonchalant and played off as repartee, as opposed to providing any real insight into what both of them are going through emotionally. As a stage comedienne, it would be appropriate to show how Fanny Brice would - like many comedians - use her humour as a defense mechanism or as a way of deflecting any pain or loneliness she might feel. When she begins the musical number, she is playfully musing to herself, and we see Sharif's facial expressions mirroring this; their very real feelings are initially played off as a joke, and they are all bemused smiles. However, as she goes on and begins to allow herself to acknowledge the seriousness of these feelings - the idea that it's okay to want personal, human connection, to "need" someone - we see those barriers come down. With Sharif, he is no longer laughing, but is instead so totally transfixed by Streisand's vulnerability. He is in utter awe and admiration at her ability to come to a moment of self-realization so profoundly, and to allow him to be part of what is a very intimate experience. As for Streisand, it would be no surprise if she is so emotionally naked in this scene because the song isn't about Sharif; she isn't trying to convince him, but is, rather, trying to convince herself, and ultimately does. Sharif remains out of focus and in the background, as if he has disappeared and she is having this experience alone and independently.

3. As mentioned in the previous answer, we are meant to track Streisand's emotional evolution throughout the course of this song, and the camera stays squarely focused on her. While we get the occasional glimpse at Sharif, she is front and centre. The camera glides on a tracking shot, creating a dreamy, out-of-body experience. Streisand may be physically standing on a stoop in early 20th century New York, but emotionally she is floating far away. 

 

 

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1. The song made the moment tender, if she were to be more theatrical it would have ruined the whole scene.

2. The two characters love each other, Nicky watches Fanny sing her song.

3. As Fanny is singing the camera shows Nicky suggesting him as her love interest.  

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1. I think the way she sings the song helps us relate to her. He is obviously a very attractive man and she is confused why he has picked her to show affection to because she doesn't think she is pretty. If she would have belted out the song, all of the focus would have been on the sound of the song instead of the lyrics. She is trying to let her guard down to have feelings for this man despite her insecurities about herself and the fact that he is a gambler.

2. They start out walking together and she is singing to him. Then, she walks a little bit ahead of him and he lingers back from her. He is listening to her and letting her sort out her feelings. She isn't really singing to him anymore but to herself, like a pep talk to find love.

3. I think at the beginning they are just two people walking and talking, flirting. The scene pans out and adjusts from her singing to him watching her singing. I think his reaction to her contemplation is respectful and she is distancing herself from him for now. When they don't see each other for a long time after this night, she is upset but he tells her she needed time to mature and realize what she wanted. Things might not have turned out the same if they had tried to start a relationship that night. I think it also could be foreshadowing that she will be ahead of him in their relationship. She becomes a success and his luck as a gambler falters, causing him to be depressed and not see her shows, ultimately him choosing to divorce her and be free again.

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1) In this scene Streisand's rendition of "People" is soft and reflective of her inner turmoil at that moment. She is shy, insecure and not sure how to handle his need to be"free". The lyrics of the song "lovers needing other lovers" expresses a message to him. At this tender moment, the song needs to be sung in a delicate but dramatic fashion. Her message leaves him pensive and enchanted.

2) The emotional transitional moments are subtle in this scene. Sharif follows her as she starts to sing and move away from him. The camera picks up on his expression of admiration but he doesn't move toward her. He is not to disturb her solo moment. I felt like one of her neighbors looking out the window watching her intense rendition of "People". She made every lyric count and poured her heart out. I wanted to yell out "Nick, go to her now"

3) Wyler keeps the camera on Streisand throughout this scene. After all, he HAS to highlight the best singer of that era and more. He allows us to see Sharif staring at her intently but the attention and merit goes to her. Audiences wanted a closer look at the STAR and Wyler knew exactly how to do it.

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  1. The performance here felt sweet and gentle and lets you see the honesty and affection she expresses in how she’s embarrassed to admit in her feelings for him, and dealing with people differently. Having a much theatrical approach with much charge and full of energy as if it’s very overtly forced without the intimacy and soft side to be appreciated.
  2. They do have a fondness towards each other, but they don’t know if they’re meant for each other. It’s not until the song where her singing that Nicky comes to understand her more and both are willing to learn more about each other if they want to make their relationship work a bit.
  3. It’s a long shot as it is common in the 30s through 50s musicals where less cuts are used and are wide to focus on the singing to then rotate to another angle to have a two person shot of her at the top stairs and Nicky watching her from a distance. It’s moved smoothly and gentle to watch her sing.

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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?

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

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

I have lumped my responses together as follows:

While she is home on Henry Street this is not a stage where the “Ugly Duckling” can mask her insecurities with funny costume and makeup; she is self-conscious and uncomfortable in this new and intimate situation. Barbra/Fanny’s mannerisms and gestures are minimal and convey this; hands clasped, shyly running her fingers along the railing to take the focus off herself, her head is mostly angled downward and she is avoiding direct eye contact.  And when she sings “We’re children…” she takes a few tentative steps as if walking a tightrope, or a child trying to keep her balance walking along a fence (like Dorothy teetering on the pig pen railing) then she grasps the stairs newel post and swings around it emphasizing the childlike/teenage first date awkwardness. 
The scene is blocked so there is considerable distance between Fanny and Nick, and as she moves down the street, he follows her but he never moves in close; the sophisticated intuitive ladies’ man knows to take his time and not frighten her off.  Also his back is to the camera so as to maintain the focus on her, this moment is about her expressing her feelings and he is attentive.  Even when the camera angle shifts to take them both into the frame there is still the distance and he is watching.  There does not appear to be very much actual interaction or of her relating to him as she even at times seems to be singing to herself.  And maybe this is a moment of perspicacity; wherein she realizes as a performer she’s capable of interacting with and engaging hundreds of people and needs them to be who she is, yet also needs “just one very special person” to fill the emptiness and loneliness that exists when she is not onstage.
As the music swells and she becomes more expansive with arms outstretched to make a point the gesture is still kept to a minimum.  All of the intimacy, cautiousness and timidity would have been lost if Streisand had been confidently “belting” the song with broad theatrical gestures.  
 

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The song needed to be sung in the fashion it was, intimate and conversational. It would have lost it’s meaning had it been more theatrical and expressive. We connect with Fanny emotionally as she draws us in, we see her heart and thoughts through the lyrics. 
She is center stage and he is in background yet intensely listening; she begins to touch railings and closes her eyes while facing him. These actions seem to be her directed toward him. He begins to smile as if he agrees and she has made her case. It is much more intimate than the spacing seems on camera. The blocking of the scene causes us to focus on Fanny. Nicky remains in th background, giving us the space to see her true emotion as he sees her for the first time as a lady and not a performer. He looks on as she is atop the stairs where she can be comfortable revealing her thoughts.

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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 seems to fit part of the conversation they are having, continuing the mood of their evening: Intimate and close, sharing thoughts and idea, and learning about one another.

 

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

Throughout the song, from the very beginning, he is following her each time she walks away as she sings.  She will sing for a moment, he comes closer, and she turns away to continue sharing her feelings. 

 

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

I am not familiar with terms, but from the beginning where they start out close, then she walks away and stand alone the camera angles are used to highlight that fact, that Fanny is alone still and sort of unsure about the relationship she has with Nick.

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1.  It would have not helped display the character's sensitive personality.  This is an intimate moment.  

2.  They are both deprived of a meaningful relationship for their own reasons.  His lifestyle doesn't really allow him to commit and she's embarrassed of the attraction.  They look at each other and he responds to her song by walking behind her with a smile. 

3.  They start the scene on the same frame but then the camera is on her when she starts singing.  Then we see him following her with the camera on his back and focused on her.  As the song progresses the camera is only on her then by the end there's a distance between them.    

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This song a real classic is done in a tender quiet moment. Belting out a song like many actresses do on stage would have taken away from the momen a quiet set ,two people elegantly dressed. Fanny Brice who always seems to be trying to get more classy sings this song very soulfully reveling her vulnerability to a man who unfortunately does not see that side of her. LOVE THIS MOVIE.

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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 Streisand belted more, and made it more theatrical, it would have become a very SHOWY number, rather than a heartfelt number.  Here, it is still intimate between the two of them, and the audience can sense how she feels.  Had she gone full out for a stage performance, it would have felt over produced, and unrealistic. 
       
  2. Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung?
    • Omar's expression doesn't really seem to change much throughout.  From the beginning of the song, he is actively listening, and continues to listen and be present as she goes through different stages of life of who needs who.  Streisand, however, begins by being more open and speaking/singing towards him about people and children, but she turns away and appears as if she is really feeling, and understanding for the first time what lovers might need.  We lose sight of him during the "lovers" part, but as the camera circles back around, we see him still in the same spot, listening.
       
  3. How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc.
    • It appears as if this is all one shot, without any cutting needed.  As I said before, there are moments where Streisand is clearly in her own world, and the shot is set up perfectly to help us get that sense.  When she begins singing, she is walking away from Omar, but he is close behind, following, and hanging on her every word.  As she stops and goes into the song-proper talking about what people need, she plays with the balcony, and we see Omar relax and settle in to listen to what she has to say.  As she walks further away to speak about what a child needs, she plays with the stair rail, almost as if becoming a child again in a sweet, and naive way.  As she begins to sing about lovers, the camera zooms in slightly, her voice becomes more hushed and low, and she turns further away.  The camera turns and puts Omar back in the shot as she discusses lovers, but she is no longer singing to him, but looking away, with a distant look on her face, nervously playing with her fingers, as she begins to open her heart about what a lover needs.  The blocking and cinematography really help bring us all in to what Streisand is feeling, but without forgetting that about her counterpart and how he might be feeling about her story.

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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 that a more theatrical treatment of the song would have taken away the vulnerability of the song and the the character.
 
Note the emotional transition moments in this scene: how do the two characters relate to each other as the lyrics are sung? AS they segue from small talk about involvement Sharif is basically moved from the main part of the scene to the side and somewhat out of focus. Streisand has all the movement and emotion of the scene describing her needs/desires as she sings. 
 
How does the direction and editing of this scene support Streisand’s performance? Be specific about blocking, reaction shots, etc. Both Sharif and Streisand are in the scene at first then as she starts to sing the focus and most of the blocking shots are her. Sharif is mostly a prop at this stage.

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