nesting * geeking * critiquing

Film Essentials

The great catastrophe of cinematography is undoubtedly the modern dance number.

White Christmas, Singin’ in the Rain, Oklahoma!Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, The Mole People (I know, right?!)…just to name a few…all have a modern dance number. Allow me to describe for you the basic elements of said phenomenon. May I present:

The Tragedy of the Modern Dance Number in Film 
or That Scene That Should Have Seen the Cutting-Room Floor
-All of which may or may not be part of a dream sequence-

  • Incongruent costumes/scenery
    • Imagine you’re watching a movie made about making one of the first talking movies; a movie about a movie, as it were. The majority of the backgrounds are sets or other parts of the studio lot. You’re treated to visions of baroque period costumes (during the scenes of the aforementioned “talkie”) and the actors’ classic, wholesome ‘civilian’ attire.
      Next thing you know, there’s a smoky Broadway club with vampy flapper girls and zoot-suited fellas.
  • Dance style changes abruptly
    • Next, let’s say (hypothetically) that the film’s heroine has been traipsing around a farmhouse and through fields of corn—as high as an elephant’s eye, even!—dancing little square-dance-y jigs.
      Next thing you know, you’re looking at some sort of ballet business. Such is the ghastliness that begat the ghastliness known as “The Partridge Family.”
  • Forgettable (or absent) lyrical content
    • There’s a particular favorite Christmas tune that spawned a particular favorite Christmas film, and all almost all of the songs get stuck in your head. You sing along, you recall the little ditties all year through, they’re just quality work.
      Next thing you know, there’s a song that’s a sort of parody narration regarding the change from dance to choreography. While some of the quips are clever, the song just doesn’t fit the bill.
  • Wait a minute, this isn’t even a musical!
    • A couple of archaeologists fall into a hole, find subterranean claw-handed people who can’t tolerate light and, naturally, want to kill. Oooh, scary.
      Next thing you know, well, this website said it best: “Like every dance scene in all lost civilization movies, it’s long, boring, and totally unnecessary.” Word.
  • Things you want to bleach your eyeballs for having seen

Does anyone even enjoy these scenes? I’m thinking they would’ve been better appreciated as extras on the collectors’ discs. Of course, I may not be the most objective judge—I don’t have rhythm enough to move both my arms and feet for those dancing video games.


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