Sun 4 Jan, 2004 10:22 am
Carousel has long been one of my favorite movies. It has a touching story and some great music. Some songs in it are:
If I Loved You
June is Bustin Out All Over
Stonecutter Cuttin On Stone
My personal favorite
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on Walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone
There is one aspect of the story that puzzles me, a part I don't think would have been included in a modern remake, though I am often wrong about such things. When the character Billy Bigalow is telling his story in hope of being allowed to go back to Earth and help his daughter, the old starkeeper asks him: "Why did you hit your wife?" Billy: "We'd argue and she'd be right. So I hit her." Later in the story Billy is revealed to his daughter. As he tries to get increasingly close to her she becomes wary, then frightened, for he had been killed before her birth; she had no way to know he was her father. He reaches into his pocket. "I want to give you something. Something special." "My mother told me to never accept anything from strangers." She sees a star in Billy's hand. "What is it?" Billy gestures at the sky. "Here; I want you to have it," he says trying to press the star into her unwilling hand. When she begins to struggle he slaps the hand. She struggles free and runs to tell her mother. When Julie, the mother, comes outside they look for Billy, but he's gone, they think. Actually he is invisible and looking on. He can tell that Julie caught a glimpse of him before he vanished from view. The daughter tells how Billy hit her. "And it didn't hurt at all." Julie tells her, "Yes it is possible to be hit and it not hurt at all." Julie is starry-eyed, feeling Billy's presence. And so we are left with the notion that hitting is wrong, but, in this case, with a man like Billy Bigalow, who did not know a proper way to express himself, it should be overlooked. Much as I love to watch this film, this part always makes me wonder about the writer of the play it was adapted from.
I haven't seen this movie in quite some time. I love musicals, old and new. "You'll Never Walk Alone," is also one of my personal favorites. When sung by the right person, it can give you chills up and down.
You're right, Edgar. There is some wonderful music in Carousel, but the story, well, it may be true, but it's not something I call entertainment. I walked out of a performance at Stratford.
Carousel used to be one of the staples of Community Theatre and High School Drama--no longer. Wife Beating is no longer regarded as a necessary Fact of Life.
Liliom, the takeoff play for Carousel was equally matter-of-fact about wife beating--particularly among The Lower Classes.
When Flower Drum Song was re-written recently, I had hopes that someone would tinker with Carousel. Perhaps....
I would also love to see Carousel updated, it was one of my favorite movies as a child. I havent seen it in quite a long time.
One of the better adaptations of a stage musical and I would think due for a revival on Broadway. Certainly better than the meandering and curiously garish color filters in the film version of "South Pacific." We've discussed what would be a good musical to bring to the screen which would not be a remake and I suggested Sondheim's "Company" and Cy Coleman's "City of Angels" (it's about filmmaking and specifically film noir detective movies).
Carousel, Gordon Macrae, Shirley Jones, remake, nah......leave well enough alone.
I dunno. Tinkering with an established classic and rewriting it to reflect modern day 'political correctness' does not seem like a brilliant idea to me. The play is of a particular time and place. To update it because some of its message no longer suits our sensibilities seems like a particularly shoddy bit of bowdlerization. I don't have to approve of wife beating (I don't) to appreciate the mindset of the characters in a play.
Updating classic musicals to reflect modern sensibilities? What about this, from Showboat
Colored folks work on de Mississippi,
Colored folks work while de white folks play,
Pullin' dem boats from de dawn to sunset,
Gittin' no rest till de Judgment Day
Would you prefer the original version?
People who protest the language of a bygone day often are misled by the fact the terminology has only lately been deemed offensive; but in that bygone time, they were bound by the thought and language of the day even when they had no racist axe to grind. A remake would have to be different because audiences are different. I would still watch the original without feeling offended, however.
That's it, edgar.
The occasional wife-battering was not looked upon with quite the degree of shock then that it is today, as with so many of society's mores.
If you watch films as recent as those made in the '60s, you notice the out-of-date hairstyles, clothing, and autos.
We can watch movies made just 15 or 20 years ago and laugh at the size of the cellphones and marvel at the fact that everybody is smoking, everywhere.
But to go back a couple of generations and see the snapshots of what was acceptable behavior then that is not now is quite revealing, and once in a while unsettling.
The original "Showboat" lyrics which show up on the Von Stadt recording uses the "n" word as at the time is was used in affection by African Americans as slang amongst themselves. It was only later it was taken up as a degrogatory word more specifically used by Southern white bigots.
The stage version of "Carousel" more directly addressed the spousal abuse.
I didn't see a stage version of Carousel. I only have the movie to draw upon. I love that film, despite the abuse that occurs. I know it almost seems the authors endorsed the abuse, but I think instead they were examining how a tragedy like that takes place, rather than saying we should hit our women. They did not really make Billy a sympathetic person during those scenes.
A major problem with ethically dated musicals is that musicals are the fodder for community theater groups and high school dramatic societies.
From my days in community theater, I know that selling tickets for a musical is a lot easier to do than selling tickets for straight drama. Musicals, although more expensive to produce than straight drama, can even turn a modest profit.
Wife Beating may have been acceptable at one time, but I'd have some qualms about a local high school producing a play that proclaims that physical violence can be a sign of love.
Unpalatable ideas set to music tend to resonate in developing psyches.
Just in case nobody has noticed, the 'n' word has made a strong comeback among African-Americans as a term of endearment in recent years. I teach a class consisting mostly of adolescent African-American boys and the word, for them, is synonimous with 'homey' or 'friend.' Now, it's quite another matter to put it in the mouth of a white person, of course.
I'm pretty certain that if Carousel were rewritten today the flaws in Billy Bigalow would be something quite other than wife beating.
The word concerning black people is their right to use or dispose of. It is a word so horrific coming out of the mouths of white folk that I won't stand still for a conversation in which it is used.
Just watched the new version of South Pacific with Glenn Close, the makers didnt see any reason to alter the racial intolerance theme in that, so why alter the wife beating story line in any remake of Carousel, it simply wouldnt be the same story.
and after seeing the new South Pacific, thats another one they should have left alone.
I saw the new South Pacific. It didn't do a thing for me.