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A Study of the Major Characters in a Utopia in the Rain and Moulin Rouge

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In the article “Entertainment and Utopia” the author Richard Dyer places musicals within a certain remit of entertainment. He also describes musicals as a function of ‘escapism’ and ‘wish fulfillment’ which is the main characteristic in a utopia. Dyer states “Entertainment does not, however, present models of utopian world… Rather the utopianism is contained in the feelings it embodies” (p 273) In the film Singin’ in the Rain and Moulin Rouge are films from two great musicals from two different eras. This particular genre is based on feelings as the root of the film through song and dance.

The utopian sensibility is made up of five elements energy (work and play being synonymous), abundance (elimination of poverty for self and others; equal distribution of wealth), intensity (excitement, drama, affectivity), transparency (open, spontaneous, honest communications and relationships) and community ( all together in one place, communal interest, collective activity). The audience may experience these five elements while watching a musical. In Singin’ in the Rain the element of intensity is used throughout the film but is most recognizable in song “Singin’ in the Rain” when Lockwood honestly expresses to his love for Kathy openly and courageously. In the film, Moulin Rouge energy and abundance is prominent in the opening scene where the character Satin is dancing and the rich community from the Paris nightclub. Also the intense emotion in the rooftop duet between Satine and Christian. Moulin Rouge has a simple story line about love, as it is stated throughout the film repeatedly “This story is about truth, beauty and above all love”. This film ends with a nonutopian ending because Satine dies.

Moulin Rouge exist in its own Utopia while Singin’ in the Rain follows more of the generic Utopia feel. Singin’ in the Rain is an entertaining film and a work and also a work of art. Dyer’s piece show the idealism of musicals and how that paint an emotional picture. The nature of a musical is one that draws the emotional strings of the viewer.

The Celluloid Closet documentary does well to illustrate the under-representation of homosexuality in Hollywood. Early Hollywood films taught straight people what to think about gay people and how gay people should view themselves. Gay men in early cinema served as an entertaining addition to films but there was also a double standard because woman depicted as men were not as humorous as men being depicted as a woman. Homosexuality was not something to laugh about, gays were living in a dangerous time. As the era of Prohibition began, gay bars secretly popped up in the speakeasies run by the mob, who would provide the bars with police protection. Life was not easy for homosexuals. They were seen as perversions against nature, creatures to be laughed at and ridiculed. The two films I will be discussing are Rebel without a Cause and Dallas Buyers Club.

Gay subtexts were present early on because screenwriters would go under the studio’s nose and write in hints about a character or put in a theme that would be understood only if the audience was in the know and could read between the lines (The Celluloid Closet). In Rebel without a Cause the character ‘Plato’ was played by a gay actor named Sal Mineo and his character was gay in the film. This character was killed by the end of the film. In Celluloid Closet it was stated that characters that were assumed dead by the end of the film. Homosexuality was deemed as an illness to some viewers and the Production Code enforced strict rules to being gay. It was even frowned upon to be gay in Hollywood you could have been blacklisted.

Dallas Buyers Club is a true story based on Ron Woodroof, and only has thirty days to live after being diagnosed with HIV. Woodruff ends up living six years after he diagnosed with HIV/AIDs. This documentary mentions the notion of positive versus realistic representation. In this documentary, a lot of the people featured were white, cisgender, gay men, which at the time, may have seemed revolutionary on screen, but there are many different identities to discover within the LGBTQ+ community. Transgender character and issues are more of the issue today in films and television. In the film Dallas Buyers Club, there is a character Rayon who transgender and there are not many transgender roles in cinema.

Viewers need to be prepared for more gay cinema. Gay films should not have to be different than any other romantic film. A kiss, sexual intercourse should be equal in both a heterosexual film and a homosexual film. It is also necessary to show gay couples between both men and woman because most people are fine with seeing two lesbians kiss but are not fine when two men kiss. Having more males in gay cinema will help this gay cinema continue to progress. Gay cinema needs to be moved from stereotypes and clichés and expand its genre. This can open a lot of avenues for LGBTQ+ community.

In “John Wayne’s Body” written by Garry Wills the author explains how John Wayne embodied the manliness and Americanism through is onstage career and off stage career. Clint Eastwood was another Actor who was able to show his masculinity through his films. Both of the actors starred in western Hollywood cinema and heavily involved in politics off-screen.

John Wayne started in low-budget films and began his rise to the top. He is now known as one of America greatest actors and directors. In 1939 Wayne starred as Ringo Kid in Stagecoach. He also starred in Fort Apache and The Alamo. These film-shaped his career and he became known a hard-core soldier, but still had that compassionate side. In war movies, he portrayed the loyal patriot. During his off-screen time, he helped found the Motioning Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals and later become the president. Clint Eastwood known for his acting and directing has also been involved in politics. In 1986 Eastwood won the election of the nonpartisan mayor of the Carmel-by-the-sea, Californian. He also endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Stated in the article “Wayne was a hero to the Republicans’ hero…” (p 39) Wayne was a committed Republican. Eastwood on screen performances definitely showed a certain type of masculinity.

Both Wayne and Eastwood have a patriotism in their characters they portray through film and when they are off screen. Stated in the article “Wayne is not just one type of Western hero” he can play a variety of roles but was always careful about the roles he decided to be portrayed in for his image. Wayne refused to be a coward for and refused to shoot a man in the back.

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