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Film Journal Chicago

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Daniella Luciano

American Musical Theater

Professor Campbell

7th August 2016

        

Chicago is a musical film, from 2002. The film tells the story of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly- two nightclub sensations that find themselves arrested, on death row for murdering their husband and lover. The films plot rattles when Velma’s attorney offers to fight Roxie’s case, also. This does not go over well with Velma, as she needs to be the media frenzy, now until she returns to her stage.

        I have never been a Chicago fan. It isn’t that the plot is mundane, or the story line is poorly written, it is just not my type of musical. The score is not something that appeals to me, as much as other musicals have. With that being said, I think this musical was wise to use in our curriculum, as it highlights many ideas that we have learned. For example, Velma is a Vaudeville actress. Honestly, if I hadn’t taken this course, I would have no clue what that meant, and probably wouldn’t find out. I am thankful I can now watch a musical, and understand theater terms and concepts, stronger than I have before. Also, the film exhibits many themes to constitute are as American, such as a corrupt judicial system. For example, Billy, Velma’s attorney offers to proceed with Roxie’s case, at a fraction of the cost, while making a media extraordinaire out of her. Also, Mama Morton’s methods of operating the women’s bench at the Cook County Jail is far from orthodox, showing a default in the system- something this country still faces today. The film also depicts the issues of media manipulation and scrutiny. Roxie’s whole life and sentence is made to be a spectacle of, with lies being shed, her relationship being tested and just constantly under the media fire. Especially with election season, we see this in our nation now more than ever. Everyone wants to publish that cover story.  The last representation of American culture I was able to extract from this film is the theme of competition and its detriments. When Roxie enters the jail, and finds her idol, Velma is there also, she attempts to befriend her idol. That does not work for Velma. Rather than giving her the time of day, Velma deflects her attempts at friendship, as there’s now way she will have her fame be jeopardized by some chorus girl. Sadly, there are people in this world, who reflect this poor quality like Velma. I say poor quality, because a life lived like this prohibits healthy relationships and the ability to prosper. If everyone in this world, acted in this way, no one would talk to each other and we would constantly be at war with one another. It is just not a healthy way for a world to succeed.

        In conclusion, this play is not my style, yet I find it a great way to wrap up our film viewings for the course. It offers several windows for us to broaden our perspectives on the link between musical theater and American culture. It allowed everything we have covered to be put in front of our eyes, to successfully complete this course.

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