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1980 and the Death of the Disco Musical

The AppleThe musical possesses a unique form of power rarely afforded to other Hollywood genres. In the words of film scholar Rick Altman, “The musical invites us to forget familiar notions of plot, psychological motivation, and causal relationships.” In contrast to other commercial genres, the musical is almost one-of-a-kind in its ability to arrest time and space, to suspend disbelief, to defy our lived understanding of human relationships and even the very conventions of filmgoing. In what other mainstream genre can fictional characters get away with looking into the camera lens so often? Dramatic logic is replaced in the Hollywood musical by spectacle and raw emotional appeal, with singing as the defining device for such purely cinematic priorities.But what happens to the musical when singing is taken out of it? This was the conundrum of the short-lived disco musical, a sub-genre that ended as soon as it began.Popular

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