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Saturday, January 3, 2009

ASJ Blog Analyzes Opening Sequence

ASJFoundationPortfolio, a blog written by Amie Wood, Samantha Tait and Jessica Daley in Hartlepool, UK, includes an interesting anaylysis of Dirty Dancing's opening sequence, the slow-motion dance with the title and main credits. Their article:

In the opening sequence of the film the director uses medium close ups to show the intimacy of the dancers, this is significant as the film is called Dirty Dancing. The camera focuses on the characters by using extreme close-ups so the audience can see their facial expressions. The camera then follows different characters; the camera movement is very steady.

The opening sequence gives the audience an idea of a later enigma, as the closeness of the dancers later relate to the intimacy of the two main characters in the film. The opening sequence is also a montage of the full film.

The costume design, hair and make up are all symbolic as it represents the period that the film is set in, which is the 1960’s. The female’s costumes are very revealing, which reflects the sexual relationship that the characters have.

The edits during this sequence are rather slow which refers to the pace of the song, which creates the impression that music is an important convention involved in this genre of film.

The use of black and white also gives the pink text more effect as it makes it stand out and look visually appealing. The style of the writing is very feminine suggesting that this film shows the life of a young girl.

Dean Winkelspecht Loved the Music

DvdTown.com's reviewer Dean Winkelspecht remembers in a review, which he wrote in June 2007, that he always has loved the movie Dirty Dancing mostly because of its music.

.... I believe my first experience with this film was being taken with my older sister Cindy to see the film at a theater. .... This film was all about Patrick Swayze and dancing. I´m sure that was the primary reason that Cindy dragged myself and my nephew Don to go see Dirty Dancing. Don and I are the same age, as my sister is a good deal older, so we both had to suffer for this "date movie."

.... Truth be told, there is something I have always enjoyed about Dirty Dancing. It isn´t the humor. It isn´t the dancing and it certainly isn´t Patrick Swayze. Jennifer Grey was twenty seven when Dirty Dancing was released and she portrayed a teenage rich girl in the film. She was cute, but she wasn´t the reason I agreed to go along to see this film.

I was fifteen years old at the time and going to see Dirty Dancing with your sister wasn´t exactly the "cool" thing to do. What I enjoyed about Dirty Dancing was the music. I absolutely love some of the Oldies that appear in the film. "Be My Baby," "Big Girls Don´t Cry," "Where Are You Tonight," "Do You Love Me," "Love Man," "Stay," "Some Kind of Wonderful," "These Arms of Mine," and "Love is Strange" are just a few of the great songs contained on the film´s soundtrack. If anything, Dirty Dancing is one of the finest films based upon its soundtrack. ....

I don´t recall if the dancing depicted in the film was necessarily shocking and risky twenty years ago. It was all offensive to me at that time. Since then, I´ve certainly spent enough time on club dance floors to not find anything in Dirty Dancing to be offensive. This film had a decent story and decent performances, but it is a tribute to the music and the era in which the film is set. It is a journey back in time for many to enjoy, such as my older sister.

For younger audiences, it is a curiosity of the Eighties that looks at the Sixties. I´ve seen this film more times than I want to admit to. Oddly, I still find myself enjoying it.

Pete Croatto Credits Jennifer Grey for Success

FilmCritic.com's Pete Croatto wrote a retrospective review of the movie in 2003. Here are some excerpts:

Dirty Dancing’s initial success in 1987 was probably a mixture of factors — Patrick Swayze’s anointment as a sensitive hunk, the fact that the movie’s sweetness was a change of pace from the loud, expensive blockbusters that dominated the landscape at the time and a pop soundtrack of golden oldies and then-current songs that flooded radio stations.

However, after watching the movie recently, the key to the movie’s limitless charm is revealed to be due to the presence of Jennifer Grey. Without her performance, the movie is a flop, Bill Medley isn’t cool again and, well, Swayze and Grey drift into irrelevance a year or two earlier.

Set at a posh Catskills resort in the summer of 1963, soon-to-be college freshman Baby (Grey) and her family are set to get some relaxation in. However, volleyball and lame dances don’t appeal to the worldly Baby. Out looking for some excitement, she stumbles upon the staff’s lodge, where much to her surprise, she sees a ton of young people set free of familial restraints. They’re grinding, they’re sweating, they’re dirty dancing.

The hero of this pack of well-toned hoofers is Johnny (Swayze), the resort dance instructor who plays by his own rules, but can’t get anyone else to play along. Baby falls instantly for him, and she sees her chance to get closer to him and that rebellion when his lifelong dance partner, Penny (Cynthia Rhodes), suffers an unwanted pregnancy and botched abortion.

Though Johnny is a two-step taskmaster, he and Baby quickly become close. She gives him courage and confidence; he gives her the strength to break free from her family ties. Despite the syrupy dramatics, Dirty Dancing is still immensely appealing and Grey is the reason. Yes, I know Swayze became huge because of this movie, but I think it was more because of his physical presence. We all know he’s good looking, that women will fall for him like lemmings off of a cliff. But he has to fall for Grey, who is adorable, but certainly not a beauty queen. Most importantly, the audience has to buy them as a couple.

Grey doesn’t drip with teen sensuality or flash a come hither stare. She giggles inappropriately, she curses herself for not getting dance steps right. By embodying every awkward young adult emotion about falling in love, she makes you want the romance to work. In the process, she also validates all the soap opera theatrics that revolve around her. Credit must also be given to the late Emile Ardolino, who directs the intimate scenes with Swayze and Grey with a seductive restraint that borders on the unbearable—check out the bedroom slow dance. The movie eschews sex and teenage tomfoolery for real emotions and comes out of the corner dancing up a storm. ...