The scene that everyone can’t forget about Singin’ in the Rain is Gene
Kelly, dressed in a yellow raincoat, hanging from a lamp-standard and
swinging his umbrella in the wild joy of new love. The entire sequence,
from the moment Kelly begins to dance until the moment the cop looks at
him strangely, is maybe the most happy musical sequence ever filmed.
It’s also one of the most famous and classical sequence in the movie
Singin’ in the Rain
If The Artist has any dimension or topical relevance whatsoever beyond
its novelty and charm, it’s as a metaphor for the fear of technological
This entire article is a major spoiler for Inception. Please do not read
it until you’ve experienced Christopher Nolan’s film for yourself.
The transition from silent film to talkie has been mentioned by many
famous directors, which is an important turning point in the history of
films. Singin’ in the Rain shows the transition in a humor way.
First, the editing of films has changed a lot. The editing of silent
film has more freedom without the constrains of sound. Many editing
modes had been developed during the silent period, such as classic
editing and theme montage. In the early stage of talkie, sounds and
pictures were recorded simultaneously, which brought a big challenge to
the editing job, because it was hard to maintain the continuity of
sound. Many great masters gave up the fancier ways and took the most
original method called ”paragraph lens”. The so-called “paragraph lens”
could be understood as a full length shot without a single cut. The
experimental talkie which Mr. Simpson showed at the party was “paragraph
lens” without a cut or even a mirror position change.
Harvey Weinstein’s grip began to be felt when Undefeated won for best
documentary, but into the homestretch, with only the four major awards
to go, The Artist had only won two, scarcely undeserved Oscars, for
costumes and score. But then the fist came down, and, yet again, it was
all-Harvey time — with Meryl Streep winning, yet again, for The Iron
Lady and The Artist taking director, actor and picture. Michel
Hazanavicius thanked the late, multi-Oscar winner Billy Wilder three
times, presumably for helping provide the inspiration for revisiting the
days of silent cinema, even if Wilder never directed a silent film.
Would the mordant, caustic and verbally brilliant Wilder have voted for
The Artist? It’s impossible to say, of course, but his own view of
another fictional casualty of talking pictures, Norma Desmond in Sunset
Boulevard, was considerably darker than even the bleakest moments
experienced by George Valentin’s washed-up silent movie hero. With
perhaps one exception, Wilder never made anything as lightweight or
ephemeral as The Artist.
Reporter上的评论和介绍，映射了现行反革命录制行业。Perhaps because there was no overwhelmingly great film this year or,
alternatively, a huge popular favorite, Academy voters did the best they
thought they could do by honoring The Artist. But I have little doubt
that, even a year from now, people will look back and wonder why. It’ll
be the way people now puzzle about how Crash could have won, or Driving
Miss Daisy, Rocky or Oliver! And, I’m afraid, there are those of us even
now who are putting Jean Dujardin’s Oscar win for best actor in the same
bag with that of Roberto Begnini’s in Life Is Beautiful. In other words:
How the hell did that happen?
If The Artist has any dimension or topical relevance whatsoever beyond
its novelty and charm, it’s as a metaphor for the fear of technological
advance; Valentin’s refusal to change with the times can easily be
interpreted as standing for the old guard’s discomfort with the new ways
of making cinema it doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to. Seen through
this particular lens, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which also won five
Oscars, would have been the more adventurous Oscar choice, simply
because Scorsese — who, like it or not, is definitely part of the old
guard now — paradoxically employed all manner of new (and expensive)
technology in creating his infinitely more ambitious and complex
exploration of the world of silent cinema. If only Marty had brought his
film in at two hours or less …
Every single moment of Inception is a dream. I think that in a couple of
years this will become the accepted reading of the film, and differing
interpretations will have to be skillfully argued to be even remotely
considered. The film makes this clear, and it never holds back the truth
from audiences. Some find this idea to be narratively repugnant, since
they think that a movie where everything is a dream is a movie without
stakes, a movie where the audience is wasting their time.
Secondly, Mise-en-scène has changed. Mise-en-scène refers to everything
that appears before the camera and its arrangement—composition, sets,
props, actors, costumes, and lighting. We can see the changes of actors’
stations and performances in Singin’ in the Rain. On the surface, acting
looks like pretty easy, in fact, every step has been discussed by the
directors, cinematographers and gaffers throughly. At the early stage,
the microphone hairy ball has not yet been invented, so the microphone
can only been hidden inside the scenery. And the microphone can’t record
the sounds if the actors are too far away. So the director has to
consider the sound effect during Mise-en-scène. In the same time, the
actors have to adjust their performing styles to keep close to the
microphone when saying dialogue. In the movie, Lemon can’t adjust her
performing style and keep her head swaying, which results the microphone
can’t record her voice correctly.
Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly with Debbie Reynolds, Gene
Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Millard Mitchell, Jean Hagen and Cyd Charisse,
102 minutes, color, 1952
Except that this is exactly what Nolan is arguing against. The film is a
metaphor for the way that Nolan as a director works, and what he’s
ultimately saying is that the catharsis found in a dream is as real as
the catharsis found in a movie is as real as the catharsis found in
life. Inception is about making movies, and cinema is the shared dream
that truly interests the director.
Thirdly, many new stars have appeared during the transition. In this era
of technological innovation, the superstars of silent films fell
overnight, and some nameless actors became new stars. Silent film and
talkie have different requirements for the actors. Without dialogue, the
information is largely conveyed by the exaggerated body language and
facial expressions. However, when the movie had sound, the complex plot
could be explained clearly in two or three dialogue, the former set of
methods seemed pompous and pretentious. Many famous actors of the silent
era ruined their careers as they could not change their own methods of
By Carter B. Horsley
I believe that Inception is a dream to the point where even the
dream-sharing stuff is a dream. Dom Cobb isn’t an extractor. He can’t go
into other people’s dreams. He isn’t on the run from the Cobol
Corporation. At one point he tells himself this, through the voice of
Mal, who is a projection of his own subconscious. She asks him how real
he thinks his world is, where he’s being chased across the globe by
faceless corporate goons.
The actor’s voice also plays an important role. In Singin’ in the Rain,
the male and female leading roles both were trained by language masters
to learn how to speak clear. Although the accent and speaking skills can
be acquired through hard practice, but the voice can’t be changed. Some
actors’ voice were not very appealing or not consistent to their person
temperament, on the other side, some young actors with melodious voice
gained more opportunities. What’s more, the heyday of musicals after the
appearing of talkie had higher standard for the voice of actors.
Joyous and bursting with energy, this movie is not the perfect musical
but has two incomparable scenes and a wondrous opening that alone
justify its greatness.
She asks him that in a scene that we all know is a dream, but Inception
lets us in on this elsewhere. Michael Caine’s character implores Cobb to
return to reality, to wake up. During the chase in Mombasa, Cobb tries
to escape down an alleyway, and the two buildings between which he’s
running begin closing in on him – a classic anxiety dream moment. When
he finally pulls himself free he finds Ken Watanabe’s character waiting
for him, against all logic. Except dream logic.
The last but not the least, the scripts have improved a lot. We still
can remember that when Gene Kelly said in the play:”I love you. I love
you. I love you.”, one of the audiences said, “How can someone get paid
by writing such a rubbish?” In a silent film, the role of the dialogue
was reduced to a minimum which may occasionally appeared in the caption
card in two or three short sentences. So nobody has ever considered of
pondering dialogue, so the dialogue was monotonous and crude mostly.
With the appearing of talkie, the screenwriters devoted themselves to
write a good script. When the play “Dance of the Knights” was released,
boring dialogue has become lyrics with rich meanings.
Perhaps no other movie leaves the viewer with such an exuberant sense of
fun and youthfulness.
Much is made in the film about totems, items unique to dreamers that can
be used to tell when someone is actually awake or asleep. Cobb’s totem
is a top, which spins endlessly when he’s asleep, and the fact that the
top stops spinning at many points in the film is claimed by some to be
evidence that Cobb is awake during those scenes. The problem here is
that the top wasn’t always Cobb’s totem – he got it from his wife, who
killed herself because she believed that they were still living in a
dream. There’s more than a slim chance that she’s right – note that when
Cobb remembers her suicide she is, bizarrely, sitting on a ledge
opposite the room they rented. You could do the logical gymnastics
required to claim that Mal simply rented another room across the
alleyway, but the more realistic notion here is that it’s a dream, with
the gap between the two lovers being a metaphorical one made literal.
When Mal jumps she leaves behind the top, and if she was right about the
world being a dream, the fact that it spins or doesn’t spin is
meaningless. It’s a dream construct anyway. There’s no way to use the
top as a proof of reality.
During the development of films, the integration of every new technology
will require lots of time and practice of filmmakers. In the early stage
of talkie, the directors were not very skilled of using sound, but the
curiosity of the audience made the sound film a big success. The birth
of new technologies leads people to think new ways of making films,
evoluted the new film theory, and with the practice of filmmakers and
the critics of reviewers, we find the best way to integrate the art and
technology, then the movies history moves forward a big step.
The opening credits appear while Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald
O’Connor stride forward in yellow raincoats and hats in a downpour
singing the title song, which just happens to be marvelously infectious,
happy and memorable.
Watching the film with this eye you can see the dream logic unfolding.
As is said in the movie, dreams seem real in the moment and it’s only
when you’ve woken up that things seem strange. The film’s ‘reality’
sequences are filled with moments that, on retrospect, seem strange or
unlikely or unexplained. Even the basics of the dream sharing technology
is unbelievably vague, and I don’t think that’s just because Nolan wants
to keep things streamlined. It’s because Cobb’s unconscious mind is
filling it in as he goes along.
The story is a parody of Hollywood’s transition from silent to sound
films. Gene Kelly plays Don Lockwood, a major movie star, who is
frequently starred with Lina Lamont, played by Jean Hagen. At the
premiere of their latest film, they are interviewed by a gossip
columnist and he recounts in flashback his early career with his friend
Cosmo Brown, played by Donald O’Connor. After the interview, Kelly flees
his fans and jumps into a car driven by Kathy Seldon, played by Debbie
Reynolds. Kathy is a would-be actress, or ingenue, whom Lockwood soon
meets again as she pops out of a cake at a Hollywood party.
There’s more, but I would have to watch the film again with a notebook
to get all the evidence (all of it in plain sight). The end seems
without a doubt to be a dream – from the dreamy way the film is shot and
edited once Cobb wakes up on the plane all the way through to him coming
home to find his two kids in the exact position and in the exact same
clothes that he kept remembering them, it doesn’t matter if the top
falls, Cobb is dreaming.
Lockwood’s and Lamont’s next movie, “The Dueling Cavalier,” is just
about finished when “The Jazz Singer” opens and everyone in Hollywood is
excited about movies with sound. Lamont’s voice, however, is less than
lovely as is revealed in a hilarious scene in which an exasperated
director, Roscoe Dexter, played with brilliance by Douglas Fowley,
desperately tries to get Lamont to understand and cope with the new
sound technology with disastrous results. The studio head, played with
gleeful authority by Millard Mitchell, is in a panic and in desperation
accepts the suggestion of Lockwood that he and Cosmo turn the movie into
a musical and dub Lamont’s voice with Seldon’s.
That Cobb is dreaming and still finds his catharsis (that he can now
look at the face of his kids) is the point. It’s important to realize
that Inception is a not very thinly-veiled autobiographical look at how
Nolan works. In a recent red carpet interview, Leonardo DiCaprio – who
was important in helping Nolan get the script to the final stages –
compares the movie not to The Matrix or some other mindfuck movie but
Fellini’s 8 1/2. This is probably the second most telling thing DiCaprio
said during the publicity tour for the film, with the first being that
he based Cobb on Nolan. 8 1/2 is totally autobiographical for Fellini,
and it’s all about an Italian director trying to overcome his block and
make a movie (a science fiction movie, even). It’s a film about
filmmaking, and so is Inception.
Donald O’Connor’s “Make’ Em Laugh” song and dance routine is one of the
great comic sequences in film history, an incredible tour de force in
which he indomitably survives through incredible vicissitudes and
ineptitudes to deliver his simple message.
The heist team quite neatly maps to major players in a film production.
Cobb is the director while Arthur, the guy who does the research and who
sets up the places to sleep, is the producer. Ariadne, the dream
architect, is the screenwriter – she creates the world that will be
entered. Eames is the actor (this is so obvious that the character sits
at an old fashioned mirrored vanity, the type which stage actors would
use). Yusuf is the technical guy; remember, the Oscar come from the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and it requires a good
number of technically minded people to get a movie off the ground. Nolan
himself more or less explains this in the latest issue of Film Comment,
saying ‘There are a lot of striking similarities [between what the team
does and the putting on of a major Hollywood movie]. When for instance
the team is out on the street they’ve created, surveying it, that’s
really identical with what we do on tech scouts before we shoot.’
The film, of course, is best remembered for Gene Kelly’s lyrical
song-and-dance performance of the title tune, widely considered to be
one of cinema’s most magical sequences. This routine elevated Kelly to
the legendary status of great dancer and led to the generations-long
debate over who was a better dancer, Kelly performed the song in one
take while suffering from a fever. Kelly or Astaire. Astaire, of course,
was the better dancer, but the “Singin’ In The Rain” sequence is perhaps
the most beloved. It is interesting to note that both Kelly and Astaire
had raspy voices but were marvelous singers.
That leaves two key figures. Saito is the money guy, the big corporate
suit who fancies himself a part of the game. And Fischer, the mark, is
the audience. Cobb, as a director, takes Fischer through an engaging,
stimulating and exciting journey, one that leads him to an understanding
about himself. Cobb is the big time movie director (or rather the best
version of that – certainly not a Michael Bay) who brings the action,
who brings the spectacle, but who also brings the meaning and the
humanity and the emotion.
The movie also has another major dance sequence, “Gotta Dance,” that
features Kelly and the beauteous Cyd Charisse. It is very good and quite
dazzling, but minor. While parts of the movie are a little slow and
corny, the highlights are so strong that the slow parts actually help
viewers savor them better.
The movies-as-dreams aspect is part of why Inception keeps the dreams so
grounded. In the film it’s explained that playing with the dream too
much alerts the dreamer to the falseness around him; this is just
another version of the suspension of disbelief upon which all films
hinge. As soon as the audience is pulled out of the movie by some
element – an implausible scene, a ludicrous line, a poor performance –
it’s possible that the cinematic dream spell is broken completely, and
The great strength of the film, however, is not the fine comedy, or
great dance routines, but Debbie Reynolds, whose youth and beauty are
radiant and whose abilities as a singer and dancer were sensational. In
her first major film, she gave promise of becoming a beautiful Judy
Garland in such songs as “Good Morning” and “All I Do Is Dream of You.”
The movie was produced by Arthur Freed who also wrote the lyrics for
most of the songs to music by Nacio Herb Brown for various movies and
shows sometime before.
As a great director, Cobb is also a great artist, which means that even
when he’s creating a dream about snowmobile chases, he’s bringing
something of himself into it. That’s Mal. It’s the auterist impulse, the
need to bring your own interests, obsessions and issues into a movie.
It’s what the best directors do. It’s very telling that Nolan sees this
as kind of a problem; I suspect another filmmaker might have cast Mal as
the special element that makes Cobb so successful.
新葡萄京娱乐场 ，(An interesting footnote is that Jean Hagen allegedly dubbed Debbie
Reynold’s dubbing of her in the final scene according to the following
account that can be found at
Inception is such a big deal because it’s what great movies strive to
do. You walk out of a great film changed, with new ideas planted in your
head, with your neural networks subtly rewired by what you’ve just seen.
On a meta level Inception itself does this, with audiences leaving the
theater buzzing about the way it made them feel and perceive. New ideas,
new thoughts, new points of view are more lasting a souvenir of a great
movie than a ticket stub.
“This merry mix-up of real life dubbing was addressed in Ray Hagen’s
article on Jean Hagen in Film Fan Monthly (December 1968): ‘In the film,
Debbie Reynolds has been hired to re-dub [Jean] Hagen’s dialogue and
songs in the latter’s first talking picture. We see the process being
done in a shot of Reynolds … matching her dialogue to Hagen’s and
synchronizing it while watching a scene from the film. But the voice
that is used to replace Hagen’s shrill, piercing one is not Reynolds’
but Hagen’s own quite lovely natural voice – meaning that Jean Hagen
dubs Debbie Reynolds’ dubbing Jean Hagen! To further confuse matters,
the voice we hear as Hagen mimes ‘Would ?’, supposedly supplied by
Reynolds, is that of yet a third girl … [Betty Royce]’. Confusing?
Well, there’s more. Although Debbie sang in the movie, notably the title
tune (dubbing Hagen!), Debbie herself is dubbed again by Betty Royce in
her duet with Gene Kelly ‘You Are My Lucky Star.'” (Long, but I just
couldn’t resisit pasting in the whole story.)”
It’s possible to view Fischer, the mark, as not the audience but just as
the character that is being put through the movie that is the dream. To
be honest, I haven’t quite solidified my thought on Fischer’s place in
the allegorical web, but what’s important is that the breakthrough that
Fischer has in the ski fortress is real. Despite the fact that his
father is not there, despite the fact that the pinwheel was never by his
father’s bedside, the emotions that Fischer experiences are 100 percent
genuine. It doesn’t matter that the movie you’re watching isn’t a real
story, that it’s just highly paid people putting on a show – when a
movie moves you, it truly moves you. The tears you cry during Up are
totally real, even if absolutely nothing that you see on screen has ever
existed in the physical world.
The movie was a remake of an earlier film but with new songs and a
screenplay by Adolph Green and Betty Comden. The title song, “Singin’ in
the Rain,” came from “Hollywood Review of 1929,” and “You Were Meant For
Me” came from “Broadway Melody of 1929,” while “Beautiful Girl” was in
“Going Hollywood,” a 1933 movie with Bing Crosby. “Fit as a Fiddle (And
Ready for Love” with music by Al Hoffman and Al Goodhart comes from
“College Coach” of 1933. “All I Do is Dream of You” comes from “Sadie
McKeee” of 1934. “Make ‘Em Laugh” is a very close take-off on Cole
Porter’s “Be A Clown” in the 1948 film, “The Pirate.” “Beautiful Girld”
comes from the 1933 production of “Going Hollywood.” “”You Were Meant
for Me” comes from “The Broadway Melody of 1936” as does “You Are My
Lucky Star.” “Good Morning” comes from the 1939 production of “Babes in
Arms.” “Moses Supposes” is music by Roger Edens with lyrics by Comden
For Cobb there’s a deeper meaning to it all. While Cobb doesn’t have
daddy issues (that we know of), he, like Fischer, is dealing with a
loss. He’s trying to come to grips with the death of his wife*;
Fischer’s journey reflects Cobb’s while not being a complete point for
point reflection. That’s important for Nolan, who is making films that
have personal components – that talk about things that obviously
interest or concern him – but that aren’t actually about him. Other
filmmakers (Fellini) may make movies that are thinly veiled
autobiography, but that’s not what Nolan or Cobb are doing. The movies
(or dreams) they’re putting together reflect what they’re going through
but aren’t easily mapped on to them. Talking to Film Comment, Nolan says
he has never been to psychoanalysis. ‘I think I use filmmaking for that
purpose. I have a passionate relationship to what I do.’
Jean Hagen deservedly would win an Oscar nomination as best supporting
actress for her fabulous performance, and the film was also nominated
for best score, but incredibly it received no Oscars.
In a lot of ways Inception is a bookend to last summer’s Inglorious
Basterds. In that film Quentin Tarantino celebrated the ways that cinema
could change the world, while in Inception Nolan is examining the ways
that cinema, the ultimate shared dream, can change an individual. The
entire film is a dream, within the confines of the movie itself, but in
a more meta sense it’s Nolan’s dream. He’s dreaming Cobb, and finding
his own moments of revelation and resolution, just as Cobb is dreaming
Fischer and finding his own catharsis and change.
The movie’s charm and freshness match the great talents involved, all at
their glorious peaks.
The whole film being a dream isn’t a cop out or a waste of time, but an
ultimate expression of the film’s themes and meaning. It’s all fake. But
it’s all very, very real. And that’s something every single movie lover
understands implicitly and completely.
This film, which ranked 10th in the 1998 American Film Institute list of
the Top 100 Movies, is ranked 8th in Carter B. Horsley’s Top 500 Sound
Films and 45th in the Top 250 list of the Internet Movie Data Base as of
December 27, 2000.
* it’s really worth noting that if you accept that the whole movie is a
dream that Mal may not be dead. She could have just left Cobb. The
mourning that he is experiencing deep inside his mind is no less real if
she’s alive or dead – he has still lost her.