This will be the first in a series of film essays posted to the site. Check the essays section for more.

This essay, entitled “Making Them Laugh through Mise-en-Scene”, is my first essay from Intro to Film at Salisbury University, a class I took after getting an A in Film Theory (the most challenging Film Studies course at SU) last semester. It describes how one character in a certain situation and setting can set the tone and them through destroying the very set he plays in!

Point is, if you’re interested in film analysis, check it out. This is not a critique or a review, but a close analysis of a very funny scene from a very great film, Singin’ in the Rain.

Here’s the first paragraph, to continue reading, click the link here, to check out it’s page in the Essays section.

“Well what’s the first thing an actor learns?” is the question posed to a disheartened Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) in the 1952 musical sensation, Singin’ in the Rain. The answer, stated with much theatrical exuberance by his industry partner, Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor), is simply “The show must go on!” The film, which focuses on the fall of the silent era and the rise of “talkies”, is a constant demonstration of the survival of actors during that transition, an effort in which “dance and physical flexibility become metaphors for generic flexibility, the ability to move among different forms of entertainment” (Chumo 39). Utilizing wild moves, his comedic madness, and some of the film’s most simple yet practical mis-en-scene, Cosmo attempts to bring some humorous inspiration to Don’s downtrodden condition. Through this mis-en-scene, Cosmo shows both Don and the audience a view of his own character, and the development of the film’s theme of how entertainment is selfless, as  “The overall design of a setting can shape how we understand story action” (Bordwell and Thompson 181). This is all done through a seemingly improvised moment following the immortal line “make em’ laugh!” that contains sparse set work, cleverly integrated props, and one incredibly flexible human body.

Works Cited


Bordwell, David and Thompson, Kristen. Film Art: Seventh Edition. New York: Mcgraw-
Hill. 2004.

Chumo, Peter N. “Dance, Flexibility and Renewal of Genre in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’”. Cinema
Journal, Volume 36, n. 1. 1996.

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