"Teach Me How to Dance"
Every girl’s fantasy has come to life in this classic film, Dirty Dancing. The film shares a story of a wealthy family staying at a camp over summer in Upstate New York. The main character of the movie, Baby, who is played by Jennifer Grey, is idealized as a perfect daughter and her family expects her to be great and marry even greater. But this changes when Baby helplessly falls for Patrick Swazey, who is a low income, ballroom dancer working at the camp. The movie plays out their love story not only through dancing, but also through the music that they are dancing to.
The music used in this film was typical of the 1960s. It had a mix of up beat hits to slow, somber songs. This movie is known as a classic because of their consistency with the time period it was set in. The consistency of music adds logos to the film as well as the costume design was true to the time period which also made the movie logical. With having the representation of the time period be constant throughout the film the audience is able to truly feel as though they are there. The clear title of the film adds to its credibility by giving the audience a straightforward idea of what the movie is about.
One scene that stood out to me while watching this film is when Baby sneaks into the staff gathering and is watching everyone dancing. She is in amazement when the song Love Man by Otis Redding comes on. The sense of Baby’s innocence is enhanced when the main dancer starts to teach her how to “dirty” dance. The music in this scene was used to contrast Baby’s purity and to show how out of place she is; at the same time it is foreshadowing that later in the film she will give into a “good o’l love man.” This follows what Louis Gianetti talked about in Understanding Movies, “thou actions and words can describe a lot, music helps suggest and makes you feel a certain way” (207). And in this scene the Love Man song leaves the audience intrigued on where this dancing might lead.
As the movie continues we find out more about Patrick Swayze’s character, Johnny Castle. We know that he is an expert ballroom dancer and teaches at the resort where Baby’s family is staying. When Baby’s sister is practicing for a talent show at camp, a lot is revealed about Johnny Castle. She is singing the Hawaiian ukulele song Hula Hana when a guest walks up to Johnny talking briefly but enough to insinuate that they have slept together. The lyrics at this moment say, “I really want a fish that doesn’t sting, like Hula Hana.” This line of the song plays in the background whilst the married woman asks Johnny on a date and he does not respond. This insinuates that to Johnny, the woman is a “fish that stings”, or something that he wants but knows is bad for him. The woman’s husband, unaware of their affair, hands Johnny a stack of bills and asks him to give his wife more dance lessons while he plays poker.
At this moment the bills are in Johnny’s hand and the music in the back round repeats twice “I really wanna, I really wanna” while Johnny is contemplating if he “really does wanna” give this woman more dance lessons. Johnny then hands back the stack of bills saying he doesn’t have time. The director then puts the camera back on Baby’s sister singing and dancing saying “You can really watcha me walk away, away.” This song provides insight into Johnny’s thoughts and feelings whilst making the decision to keep or cut the woman out of his life. This music provides pathos for the scene because without it, Johnny’s actions are ones of defiance, but with the music it created a happy, up beat emotion that made the scene almost funny that she would even ask Johnny a question such as that.
Over all the film had a great playlist, and the two scenes I picked I thought it was great songs for perfect times, and believe that “where words fail, music speaks.” This is why I give it four pickles, the music is perfect for the movie, just I would never go out and buy the CD because the songs are very movie oriented and not just something I would pop in the disc player or download to my Ipod.