Reality and Illusion in Singin’ in the Rain

This seminar is concluded. (Lina liked it.) A Newberry Library Adult Education Seminar (1 in-person session, October 7, 2023, 10:00am–12:30pm). Registration begins August 23, 2023.

“You’re nothing but a shadow on film. You’re not flesh and blood”—so says Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) to Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) in the classic musical, Singin’ in the Rain. This seminar offers an exploration of the film’s thoughtful treatment of reality and illusion. Learn about the making of the film’s memorable scenes, the double history of its musical numbers, the film’s own use of cinematic illusions, and its wry view of the movie business as silent film gave way to talkies. One in-person session (2.5 hrs)

Materials List

In advance of the session please watch Singin’ in the Rain (1952, 103 mins), Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. The film is available for streaming at Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Watch TCM, Google Play, and other platforms, and on DVD.

Seminar Description

This single-session seminar offers an in-depth look at key aspects of Singin’ in the Rain, including close analysis of selected scenes, observations by film critics, background on the Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown songs, and a look at the film’s own use of dubbing in songs and dialogue. Throughout, we will consider the film’s thoughtful treatment of “reality versus illusion,” and the effects of Hollywood’s transition to sound on actors, audiences, writers, and musicians.

Image: Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain.