Visions of Light

So… taking a wee break from the intensity of the bits (signs, signifier, signified, anchorage, polysemy, et al), it’s time to remember why we love media, and in particular, film.

I showed you a wee clip from the 1992 documentary Visions of Light. (Available to buy on Amazon) I showed you an extract where Vittorio Storaro talked about some of the decisions to do with colour made when filming The Last Emperor. These included yellow as the colour of the sun, orange for family, red for birth and green for knowledge. There are many other colours with definite connotations, and we will address these in due course… but for now…



Sit back, relax, and sink into one of the most glorious musicals ever committed to film. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darned close to it.


Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952

Singin’ in the Rain is cinematic magic, bouncy, charming, joyful, and exuberant; just the kind of fun-loving movie it’s so hard for audiences to love today. If you’re not accustomed to 1950s Hollywood musicals, Singin’ in the Rain is the best place to start. It’ll make you smile, even if you think you don’t want to.

Essentially, the story is built around a film studio that must adjust to the coming of sound in motion pictures. It’s a story all too common to the history of Hollywood, but here it’s used as a useful excuse for MGM to showcase some of their own song and dance numbers from their musicals of the 1920s and 1930s. If this sounds like an MGM slight-of-hand, it’s a trick worthy of our attention. The film clip for the title number is perhaps the most often shown piece of film in the history of cinema. But as great as this number is, the rest of the film and, in particular, the Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse “Broadway Ballet” number, are also wonderful. As Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and eventually Debbie Reynolds help the studio to adjust to the new era of movie making, a beautiful, jubilant, and exciting masterpiece unfolds before our eyes.


Bring donuts/popcorn/coffee/etc for tomorrow. 🙂

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