Singing in the Rain: The transition from silent film to “Talking Pictures”.

The silent film era started in the nineteenth century, with the works from the Lumière Brothers. In the early stages of cinema, they were no synchronized recorded sounds but rather, motion pictures and title cards indicating the dialogue and what may be the plot of the story. It wasn’t until the late 1920’s where they started to perfect the use of sound in film. “Talking pictures” or “talkies “for short, opposed from silent films, they synchronized sound with moving images; causing a big evolution in the movie industry. On 1927, “The Jazz Singer” was released and became the first feature-length motion picture to have synchronized music score and lip-synchronous singing.

Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” is the first line ever spoken  in a feature film .

Being a revolutionary thing in cinema, of course, there’s going to be technical difficulties along the way. Hollywood used the idea of the transitions between eras and made it into a film. Thus, in 1952 “Singing in the Rain” was born. The movie is about Dom Lockwood and Lina Lamont, two superstars from silent film movies. After “The Jazz Singer” came out in theaters, their studio, the Monumental company, decided to start doing “talkies“. However, Lina Lamont doesn’t have the voice to do “talking pictures“. Throughout the film, Dom meets Kathy Selden an inspiring actress. He finds out that she can sing and so Dom uses her as a voice over for Lina Lamont on his next film.

Singing in the Rain” other than being an amazing musical, it showed us the hardship that film-makers and actors had when the transition from silent to “talkies” took place. Silent films depended on facial expressions and overused mannerism to convey the feelings on to the audience but many actors weren’t ready or capable of “talking pictures“. In the film, they showed the the actors taking vocal coaching and being careful how they pronounced the words. Just like Lina Lamont, some actors weren’t made for talking in the film.

On the technical side, in the film you could see the way the production worked was completely changed. On the set of silent films, the director and the crew could be talking and screaming on set because all they need was moving images. But, when it came to recording for a “talkie” they had to be completely quiet so that the microphone would only record the actor’s voices and not outside noise. Other technical difficulties were how they needed to adjust the microphones correctly so that it could pick up the actors voices or how the motion picture sometimes couldn’t sync with the sound. The film “Singing in the Rain” is a great example of how Hollywood transitions from silent movies to “talking pictures“; showing the effect that it had the actors and in film-making.


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