Actors

Being an actor requires “effortless technique.” Actors submerge themselves into characters so much so that even when the director calls cut, they are still in that character. This is the wonderful world of acting.

While watching Grease I analyzed three actors’ characters. Frenchy (played by Didi Conn) is Sandy’s best friend. She is part of “The Pinks,” which is a group of bad girls at Rydell High. Instead of being rude and snobby, her character is welcoming and quite caring. Her soft voice and smile gives the audience a feeling of innocence which contrasts from the Pink’s attitude of wanting only sex and drugs. Unlike the other girls, Frenchy whole-heartedly opened her arms to Sandy and includes her into the not so friendly group. When the other girls mock Sandy, Frenchy apologizes and quietly comforts Sandy. When Danny disses Sandy at the school bonfire, Frenchy is the only one that stays to console Sandy. Her kind attitude portray her as someone trustworthy and dependable.

Kenickie (played by Jeff Conaway) is Rydell High’s bad boy. The first scene the audience sees with him is him knocking down a student’s books and bullying him. His nonchalant and rude attitude makes the audience annoyed. Through out the movie, he continues to ridicule women and says the only thing women are good for is sex. As he says this, Rizzo comes by and tugs at his hair. While she does this, he pushes her away and gives her a nasty look. This really enhances his “bad boy” character by showing that he does not care about her at all.

The last and main character I want to discuss is Danny (played by John Travolta). The beginning of Grease starts of with Danny and Sandy at the beach. This is the last time the two of them think they are going to see each other. Sandy is upset they are leaving, but Danny tries to savor the moment and tells Sandy that their summer fling was only the beginning of their journey. This stylized moment perfectly portrays Danny’s charming personality. He immediately targets the hearts of all the audience. Later in the movie Danny is reunited with Sandy, but instead of being his charming self he tries to impress his friends by being “cool” and having a nonchalant attitude. Even though the movie portrays him as being a “jerk” in this scene, the soft sad look in his eyes shows the audience that he really cares about Sandy.

John Travolta also starred in another musical comedy called Hairspray. In this movie he played the main character’s mother and fully devoted himself to this role by wearing makeup, a wig, and even a fat suit. I believe that John excels in this type of genre (comedy) because this is the genre he mainly stars in. Other examples of this are Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction. He allows himself to be serious, charming, and funny at the same time in all of these roles. He is most comfortable in a less serious movie and he enjoys roles that involve singing. This shows that his personality is charming and witty and this is what helps him truly commit to comedic characters such as these.

References:

Information on John Travolta:

(http://www.biography.com/people/john-travolta-9509927)

Videos of Grease:

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4WzQCQLeik)

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZS9SXH3DfT8)

Video of Hairsprays:

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDwNSR0QmBY)

Sounds

Imagine watching an action packed movie full of explosions, but no sound! Imagine watching a romantic sappy “chick flick” with no romantic music. Imagine watching a scene in a night club. All you can hear is a stand-up comedian telling a corny joke and when he finally tells you his punchline you’re waiting to hear the famous ” budumm chts” to follow…but nothing comes on. Can you imagine movies without any sound at all? How did people in the early 90’s deal with this? Sure, a good classic silent film can be entertaining once and a while, but not all of the time! Worry not though because the era of silent films is over!

People heavily rely on sound to enjoy and interpret the theme of movies. There are two distinct categories of sound: diegetic and nondiegetic. Diegetic sounds are the sounds the usually come within the ‘”world” of the movie, such as dialogue. Nondiegetic sounds are the sounds that do not come from the “world” within the movie, such as music. You can think of nondiegetic sounds as sounds that only the audience can hear, but not the characters in the movie.

The movie Grease starts out with a romantic scene between Sandy and Danny on a beach. You can hear the sounds of waves crashing along with the soothing sounds of an orchestra. The music builds throughout the scene as Sandy and Danny exchange words. Both of these elements make this a romantic scene for the audience and fills the audience with a feeling of love. The dialogue between Sandy and Danny adds to this romantic scene by giving the audience a feeling of sadness and hope as the two teens tell each other their good-byes. These realistic and calming sound effects give the audience a feeling of what you call a “feel good movie”. There is no tension or anticipation because all of these sounds are expected.

Now I want you to imagine the same scene, but with one change. Instead of the soothing sounds of an orchestra..add the sounds of suspenseful music.

This changes everything completely doesn’t it? The scene no longer has the feeling of a love scene, but now it has a feeling of horror. The audience is now expecting something horrible to happen. Wouldn’t you? The music provides an anxious anticipation of something tragic and horrifying. This just goes to show how important sound really is to a movie!

References:

Movie Scene from Grease:

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjYC-vAP_nE)

Suspenseful Music Video:

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVnlCYQ_fdM)

Information on Sound:

(http://filmsound.org/terminology/diegetic.htm)

Grease “Lighting”

       Grease tells the story of two teens’ struggle with peer pressure and the stress of fitting in with the “cool crowd”. This musical was created in the early 70’s making it an “old Hollywood film”. These types of movies relied heavily on the use of three-point lighting because it was inexpensive and the directors could keep the cameras rolling for a long amount of time without having to readjust the lighting.

In the scene where Sandy and Danny are recounting their summer fling, the lighting for the two is different. For example,  Sandy’s lighting is soft with no harsh shadows. This effect really showcases the innocence of Sandy’s story and personality. Danny’s lighting, on the other hand, is darker and the shadows around him are sharper. This lighting reflects how Danny’s version of the story has a darker motive. He focuses on sexual activities to show off to all of his buddies.

IMG_9514   IMG_9515

Another scene when lighting showcases a theme is when Sandy is sitting at the table with the Pinks. When Frenchy asks Betty if Sandy can join the Pinks, Betty says that Sandy is ” to pure to be Pink.” Later in the scene it shows Sandy’s purity by showing her at a brighter light at the opposite end of the table from where Betty is. Here Betty is shown at a slightly darker tone of light to show that she is anything but innocent. IMG_9516Later in the movie, the T- Birds sing the song ” Grease Lightning, ” which represents the gang’s dream of building up their car. When the gang is singing next to the beat up car, the lighting is dim, but when they are singing next to the new shiny car, the lighting is very bright. This really helps contrast their reality to their dream. The dim lighting shows that the reality of everything is that the boys can not fix up the car the way that they want them too. The bright lighting shows that their hopes of getting the car is there and that when the car is new everyone will love them.

The lighting in this movie adds to the emotion of the scenes. If the “Greased-Lightning” scene was all portrayed in a dark and dreary lighting, the audience would not be able to contrast the two perspectives of reality and dream as well. The movie would have no depth and would just be flat lined.

References:

Grease [Photographs] (n.d) Retrieved April 19, 2015 from http://www.netflix.com/WiPlayer?movieid=60000577&trkid=13462100&tctx=-99%2C-99%2Ca59d526e-aab8-48c8-afc8-ac220f1fb030-91866663

[Udi Tirosh] (2007 September 22) The Standard 3-Point Lighting Tehcnique from http://www.diyphotography.net/3-point-lighting-technique/