Did the Music Make the Story Better?

         In 1913 George Bernard Shaw wrote a play called Pygmalion. In 1938 it was made into a film by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard. Then it was turned into a musical play in 1956 by Alan J. Learner and Fredrick Loewe and finally into a musical film in 1964 by George Cukor. The story is fairly consistent throughout the different versions, despite of course things that must be changed for each specific avenue.

         So does the music add to or take away from the story? I think that there were parts of My Fair Lady that were really enhanced by the music, but there were parts that were hurt by the songs. One such instance of the song enhancing the story is Higgins’ song towards the end of the musical, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” The song shows the audience how Higgins really feels and adds to his character, therefore making the film more personable. But “You Did It,” the song that Pickering and Higgins sing after the ball, does not add to the story at all and just repeats the fact that Higgins did it, that he succeeded in passing Eliza off as a duchess. It is almost as if the story is put on hold so they can sing a song.

         Songs can really enhance characters and stories if they are used well. I think My Fair Lady is an example of both ends of that spectrum. There are songs in the musical that really add to the characters; they give you an insight to what the character is thinking and how they are feeling. There are also songs that add to the atmosphere of the film and of the story. But there are songs that cross the line and begin to take away from those things. My Fair Lady is a great and enjoyable film, but it comes very close to having too much music that does not add to the storyline in a progressive way.

Justin Wylie

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