My Favorite Childhood Musical

I consider the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to be rather sentimental, as it has been part of my life for quite a few years. My mom first bought it for me when I was younger because she and her sister used to love to watch it, and at this point I have no idea how many times I have seen it. At a certain time in my life I made fun of it for being so ridiculous and nothing more than a children’s story. Now, however, I am more than happy to sit through all two and a half hours of it, singing each and every song as I go. The film, which was released in 1968, features Dick Van Dyke as the struggling father of two young children, and the majority of the film is actually a fantastical depiction of a story that he makes up for them while on a picnic at the beach. The plot of the film may be a bit strange, but if you accept the quirkiness it becomes part of the charm, and the whole thing can be quite entertaining. It is a musical, and the songs throughout are really what makes it so good. All the music was composed by the Sherman brothers, who are best known for their work on Disney films such as Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book. They did a great job on this project, as the theme song is catchy and can get stuck in your head for days, while others are fun or filled with emotion.

Something I never took notice of before but have just begun paying attention to is the cinematography of this film. Given the nature of the story and the sudden departure from reality, certain effects were necessary. Green screen is used quite a bit in scenes involving action with the actors, and accounting for the time in which the film was made, it was done adequately, although I would not exactly call it “seamless.” What is done to compensate for that, however, is intercutting the actors on a green screen with wide, aerial shots of actual action happening. The best example is during a boat chase off the shores of England— closeup views of the actors reacting to the situation are clearly done in a studio, but they are alternated with aerial shots of two boats really chasing each other in the ocean. The entire film makes good use of soaring wide shots taken from above to give the audience a birds eye view of the events of the story. Overall, it is a fun and entertaining musical that I would recommend for its great selection of songs and amusing storyline.

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3 thoughts on “My Favorite Childhood Musical

  1. I was never really into musicals growing up and my exroommate told me the films I considered musicals where in fact not. The two films I thought were musicals were Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory and The Wizard of Oz. What actually defines a musical constant singing? More singing than talking? I’m a little confused. But these two films have some great songs and I have watched them for years. The Wizard of Oz has many great songs and is a classic in all aspects. The remake of the Chocolate factory with Johnny Depp is just weird but the 1970s one is amazing. The Oompa loompas songs are great and so is Willy Wonka’s song.

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  2. This was one of my favorites a child as well, along with The Sound of Music. I definately feel like I’ve experienced the same in that I have rewatched old films and started noticing different aspects like the cinematography and specific mise-en-scene. For The Sound of Music, I think the combination of music with the landscape views and shots of the natural scenery worked so well for the film.

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