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In: Film and Music

Submitted By alan2006999
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ENG225: Introduction to Film
April 18, 2011

Hairspray I have chosen to go with a film that has always been on my favorite list, ever since I first saw the film as a kid I was intrigued by the use of vivid colors and great music; in the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray. Ever since I was a child I have always had a love for the 1950's-60’s style, music and dance of that era. Hairspray is a look into the beginning of the 1960's, when segregation was on the verge of being intergraded. Blacks we're conversing with whites and becoming part of the everyday scene with the music industry; some of America’s best musicians come from black African Americans and has made music what it is today. This has created an impact on other people’s lives especially the adolescent teens.
This film is a beacon of how the intergrading process was such a harsh subject to swallow, throughout that time, and also how parents interfered with their lives trying to brain wash society that blacks were nothing more that pimps and criminals. If parents would just give their children the opportunity to be who they wanted, this world could be a much better-off place through the act of music and dance. “Light-hearted, humorous stories involving people in love with a twist of craziness in a screwball, teen gross-out comedy” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2010).
This film is based with “character Actors who specialize in playing a wide variety of characters, most often supporting or minor roles rather than their leading roles” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2010). The Hairspray’s cast of actors is a very diverse group of people, also varying in the category of wild-card acting. Actors that range from the mother of Tracy Turnblad and the Governor of Maryland in the film were played by a drag-queen (Divine). The parents of Amber Von Tussle played by (Sonny Bono) and (Debbie Harry), down to some of the unknowns of the time like the star of this film, Tracy Turnblad played by (Ricki Lake).
The story board of this film is understood in of real life depictions. Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) is an average overweight teen girl who loves to dance and follow the trend of the times with her best friend Penny Pingleton (Leslie Ann Powers). Penny’s mother is very protective and never wants her daughter to do anything especially if it involves socializing with other race ethnics. Tracy and Penny plot out their plan to lie to their parents to go on their favorite television show “The Corny Collins Show” (Waters, 1988). Since Tracy is such a great dancer, she could not help herself from getting out on the dance floor to cut a rug.
Tracy preformed so well that she was discovered and is asked to become part of the Corny Collins show. Despite Tracy being overweight, Tracy becomes a regular on the Corny Collins Show, irritating the show's star, Amber Von Tussle (Colleen Fitzpatrick). Amber is a fortunate, beautiful high school classmate whose parents, Velma played by (Debbie Harry) and Franklin Von Tussle (Sonny Bono) push their election campaign. Because Amber feels threatened of Tracy’s dancing she tries to breakdown Tracy’s self-esteem by mentioning her being overweight. Penny is and inter racial chick that does not feel that the black people should have to dance on designated days at specific hours. Penny falls in love with a black boy named seaweed. Where in the end Amber fails at becoming the Miss Auto Show 1963 and Tracy even steals her boyfriend Link (Michael St. Geraro). “The director’s vision, interpretation, and take, in skilled hands, the director makes a film that takes us out of our world for two hours and into another, a world of the director’s imagination” Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2010). John Waters is a renowned director who was “born April 22, 1946 in Baltimore, Maryland” (European Graduate School, 1997–2010). This film is set in Baltimore, Maryland around the 1960’s “as a child John Waters would stage violent versions of Punch and Judy for children’s birthday parties, he was a child obsessed with violence,” which is evident in his crass directing that comes across as a cocky slapstick style in his films (European Graduate School, 1997–2010).
John Waters is a “filmmaker, author and photographer “his vision is “set in 1962, about plus-sized teen Tracy Turnblad, who leads the fight to integrate a hip TV dance show in Baltimore” (Deborah, 2010). While his crew was looking for props and costuming, he mentioned in an article that they "went into vintage stores, not costume shops, and covered the whole city of Austin to recover every bit of '60s dress and knick-knack they could find” (Deborah, 2010). Hairspray is nothing but vintage props. His films, photos and writings make the transition from underground to mainstream without losing their aesthetic integrity (European Graduate School, 1997–2010). John Waters stated in an interview “I had a goal in life — I wanted to make the trashiest motion pictures in cinema history (European Graduate School, 1997–2010). Some may fell that John Waters films are of bad taste but if you take into consideration the precise views, original props and his heart and soul that he brings to his film. You begin to respect the director himself by his achievements and with every clip interesting makes him an icon in the film industry. I believe life is nothing if you're not obsessed. I only think terrible thoughts, I do not live them. Thank God I am not my films. If audiences can laugh at my twisted ideas, what's the great harm? “Recognizable screen character in similar plots that their names alone might almost be considered film genres or at least subgenres” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2010). John waters is one of thouse film directors that all of his films depict a retro feel that involve great original props of the specified era.
“Founder of a studio that offers information and tools to screenwriters (John Truby,) he claims that the entire Hollywood entertainment industry is based upon the concepts of genre and formula” (Truby, 2010). Films of today have to be sorted into a category for viewers to be comfortable viewing films. In this film being that it was given a rating of “R” and a subgenre of a romance comedy the public will know whether or not the film will be suitable for children; a more narrowly defined category that also fits within a broader category.
Which it finds provide more reliable profits than the individual and less predictable artistic visions that tend to be more valued more highly in other countries. He says:
[Hollywood realized a long time ago that it is not in the business of selling original artistic vision (though it sometimes happens anyway). It is in the business of buying and selling story forms. Genres tell the audience up front what to expect from the product they are buying. If they like a particular kind of story, chances are they will like this particular film, especially if the writer and director give the expectations a little twist. (Truby, 2010).]With what John Truby said this is evident that John Waters Hairspray will be expected by most that enjoy romance comedies with a little extra twist thought the film. However, typically in romantic comedies audiences expect a happy ending, no matter how it is achieved (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2010). David Denby writes in The New Yorker: audience longs for that ending with an urgency that is as much moral as sentimental” (Denby, 2007).
“The process of photographing motion; a movie’s director of photography is called a cinematographer” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2010). Throughout the film the Cinematographer (David Insley) has designed a vivid view of the beginning of the 1960’s with a use of brilliant bright colors, big hair evident of the 60’s, and a wide use of vintage props. Timeless of that era through the use of “saturation thru the deep, vibrant, bright, pure color it is often used to express vibrant emotion” or heightened reality (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2010). This is in effect during the car show where here is a futuristic concept car towards the end of the film; in the 1963’s car show.
The style of editing is considered to be in the form of continues editing because the film follows a linear pattern never flip-flopping from present to past and back to the present; the film continues from start to finish where the viewer is not confused and can understand the story. The editor (Janice Hampton) has designed in this film depicts the feel of a chronological order telling the story from start to finish, Throughout Direct cuts that are an immediate, sometimes jarring cut between one scene and another “Jump-cuts and fade outs are used in the scenes with flawless editing ability” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2010). For instance, when Tracy was arrested for becoming involved in a protest of integrations using the phrase “segregation never, integration now,” the editor used an Iris cut which closed down on the image from the outer edges until the image goes black instead of using a fade-outs or the usual direct-cut (Waters, 1988).
Throughout the use of Sound, the sound defiantly has the feel of an old record with all the pops and hisses that would be played in the 1960’s. Music was all that was on every teenagers mind; giving the audience that understanding that the times were changing. During the clip when Tract is selected to be a contestant on “The Corny Collins Show” Penny rushes over to Tracy’s parents and drags them into the living room to watch the show. During this scene the background noise is very clear to hear. The sound becomes part of the background to sound as if the viewer is actually watching the television set, and when the sound is loud the director is giving that feel that you are there on the show with Tracy (Waters, 1988). Music is a very large portion in this film playing a mixture of intergraded music that involves black and white music.
Hair and makeup based the look and feel of Hairspray, Tracy is inspired to bleach, tease, and rat her big hair into styles popular in the 1960s. A very large budget in this film because of the genre that was considered (hair hoppers) the bigger the hair the better the wear. Makeup was another must have in that time, cat tails and eyelashes with white lipstick or lip-gloss. Also, throughout the costuming all of the clothing was done to match the era of the time set in the 1962 the use of geometric patterns, strips and solid bold colors are evident in the fabrics “the value of a color in the spectrum of the films color in hues of, red, green, blues” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2010).
The physical things we see in every scenes, including setting, props, costumes, actors, makeup, lighting, colors—anything that would be on the set before the camera is even brought in is all contributed to the mise en scène and brings this entire film together. The mise en scène works very well during every bit of this film throughout the details of the props in every scene, the actor’s ability to bring the emotion to life, music and sound effects to costuming and the plot. His 1988 movie Hairspray was made into a successful Broadway musical, and then filmed again by director Adam Shankman (2007) with a cast that included Christopher Walken, John Travolta and Queen Latifah (Infoplease, 1998-2006).
This film has become a great musical play as well as a new musical movie. Although I regret to say that the classics are always the best and I am my own critic when it comes down to what I feel is a great, outstanding movie. John Waters and his crew have such pinpoint accuracy when it comes to every detail. The new film just does not compare or even come a fraction close to achieving greatness in my book. Through the Category of film (or other work of art) specific elements of its plot, setting, mise en scène, character types, and/or style (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2010).
In my conclusion this film has determined that the world is a cruel place to live, from beginning to end the use of costuming, editing, sound, and cinematography the director (John Watters) was able to get his point across that Baltimore, Maryland could be intergraded to learn to live the changing times. Watching the entirety of the film I had felt that I was actually part of the time. The Stereotype of Hairsprays simplified characterization of someone, especially due to race, nationality, geographic region, economic status, and many more are intergraded well into a story that tells the public that although someone may be overweight or a different color, never give up and keep an open mind just like Tracy and Penny.

Deborah Martin. (2010, August 13). Woodlawn stages first S.A. production of 'Hairspray'. San Antonio Express-News,WK.12. Retrieved April 18, 2011, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 2112920281).
Denby, D. (2007, July 23). A fine romance. The New Yorker. Retrieved from
European Graduate School, (1997–2010) John waters biography. Retrieved April 25, 2011. From:
Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. (2010). Film: From watching to seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Infoplease (1998-2006) John waters filmmaker. Retrieved April 25, 2011 from:
Truby, J. (2010, December 1). What’s my genre? Retrieved from http://
Waters, J. (Director). (1988). Hairspray [Motion picture]. United States: New line cinema…...

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