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I was surprised to realize that the Wizard of Oz was a musical! It makes sense now, but I just never thought of it that way. This has led me to ponder what makes a movie a musical? Big production numbers? Simply having a musical number? How is it defined? And has it changed over time?

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There are a lot of things you can consider when determining what to class a film but we all have different ideas about what makes a movie a musical. This is the very thing we are discussing in a topic I started. The topic is titled Is Yankee Doodle Dandy a Musical? Which turned into people pondering what aspects class a musical, which then opened up other topics as I hoped it would. In short I guess it depends on what your own idea of what a musical should be. Sorry I that did not really have a straight answer.  

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There are songs in it, yes.  And in movie musicals (as opposed to Broadway musicals) only the lead characters sing, with a supporting character doing a comic number.  But the female lead only gets one solo song in the beginning, the lead man (split into 3 personas) only get 1 song (except for the comic relief "If I Were King of the Forest"). Most importantly: there are no songs in the final 20 minutes of the film! When we enter to Munchkinland it suddenly becomes an operetta and we think "is all of Oz going to be this way?" but that goes away real quick. Of course I love this movie but I wouldn't call it a musical (and we can discuss the lousy editing sometime else).

 

 

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I think a film could be considered a musical if the songs and/or dances help progress the plot and/or provide some detail about the characters.  I would consider The Wizard of Oz a musical because the songs all serve a purpose other than just being in the film.  "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" sets up Judy Garland's character's desire to go somewhere where she can't get in trouble, somewhere where things are seemingly perfect.  The munchkin song tells of the terror they lived under when the Wicked Witch of the East was alive.  The scarecrow, tin man and lion's respective songs provides character background.

Gene Kelly was very skilled in incorporating songs and dances that seamlessly fit into the narrative and helped move the plot forward.  

Films like Footloose or Dirty Dancing have a lot of music in them, but the music is more for the background.  The music doesn't add anything to the plot or character development.  I would not consider these films musicals.

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I never really classified "The Wizard Of Oz" as a musical either, I always saw it as a fantasy that happens to have songs in it.   What makes a movie a true musical?  Well, a few good, and sometimes OK songs help, some dancing, talented actors, clever songwriters.   Memorable orchestrated score

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On 6/9/2018 at 4:07 PM, Opnrose said:

I was surprised to realize that the Wizard of Oz was a musical! It makes sense now, but I just never thought of it that way. This has led me to ponder what makes a movie a musical? Big production numbers? Simply having a musical number? How is it defined? And has it changed over time?

That's interesting to me.  I've never thought of it as NOT being a musical. 

Ideally, a musical has songs that comment on and are part of the story.  Of course, the backstage musical is a different style of musical - the "Let's put on a show!" type of thing.  But back to Oz, the songs introduce and comment on the characters and their motivations.  Several songs comment on the action and they are an integral part of the story. I think if the songs were extracted, the story wouldn't have as much meaning or depth in its presentation.

Even in backstage musicals, sometimes, the characters perform songs outside of the milieu of the show because performing is part and parcel of who the character is.  Follow the Fleet (1936) is a good example of this.  Bake and Sherry are show people and even though Bake is in the Navy, he hasn't lost his love of performing and it pops up in his Navy scenes.  When they decide to put on the show to save the Connie Martin, their big finale number "Let's Face the Music and Dance" is not just a performance piece, it is a personal moment for Sherry and Bake.  

Even a film like Yankee Doodle Dandy, in which the musical numbers are mostly performance pieces, it is still a musical because those performances are intrinsic to the character of George M. Cohan.  I don't think you could tell his story without them.

 

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I've always enjoyed musicals but never thought about what makes a musical until this past weekend.

This course has really got me thinking. I feel like sometimes we associate a musical because it already been labeled as such.

So when you think about a movie like Wizard of Oz that i also never thought of as a musical, to me it definitely fits the definition of one in my head. 

To me a musical is a story that is told through music. (usually choreography goes along side). Most people don't break out in melodies in day to day conversations, although i do find that  an entertaining thought hahaha . This  aspect is a key factor for me to what makes a musical. 

 

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