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Deconstructing Dirty Dancing Kindle Edition
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I’ve always seen the depth in Dirty Dancing, and assume that most people have – the way the main plot line hinges on Penny’s botched abortion, and the way the politics (and class and race issues) of the time the film was set really did have a huge impact on the story being told. This book considers the themes of the film and how out there it was for the time it was set, and the time it was made. I only wish that there had been more of a discussion about about why no one makes films like Dirty Dancing anymore, and that’s not me being nostalgic, it’s a genuine thing that interests me as to why we don’t have romantic films that look at serious issues in the way that Dirty Dancing did anymore. Now romantic films always seem to be very light and fluffy and while I enjoy them from time to time none of them are all that memorable, whereas Dirty Dancing always feels forward-thinking in the way it tackled big issues.
There is an interesting chapter earlier in the book that compares the themes of Dirty Dancing to those in Blue Velvet and I found that quite fascinating as on the surface I don’t automatically think of these films being in any way similar. I now see the common themes that Naish discussed in the book and it has made me ponder them, and to want to re-watch both films to see what else I may have missed in my previous viewings of them.
Naish also discusses how certain quotes from Dirty Dancing have become part of popular culture now. The way we all quote ‘I carried a watermelon’, for example, as shorthand for the most mortifying things we’ve ever said or done.
I found the author’s analysis of the end of Dirty Dancing utterly fascinating. I’ve watched the film numerous times and I’ve always thought that the ending was just super romantic and a perfect end to the film. Naish considers the idea that the whole ending was just a fantasy that Baby was having, it was what she imagined happened and that really the love story between her and Johnny was over when he left Kellermans earlier in the the film. I actually see that this is entirely plausible and it has made me really think about whether this is more likely than how I’ve always viewed it.
All in all this is an interesting, nostalgic look back on a great film and if you’re a Dirty Dancing fan I think you’ll very much enjoy this book – I definitely recommend it.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Each of the sections are only a few pages. The introduction has some bits of production trivia. There’s a comparison to David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet”, but ultimately anything they have in common is incidental.
Perhaps reading “The Time of Our Lives: Dirty Dancing and Popular Culture” would be more rewarding, as the author refers to it throughout. If you were looking for a fun and lively review of a cheesy 80’s film, I recommend “John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’” by Jonathan Lethem.
That may sound a little crazy and I was wondering how he was going to do this. But his argumentation is comprehensible and a lot less far-fetched than I feared it might be. He takes the reader through the movie scene by scene, explaining quickly what happens in that scene before analysing it. That made it easy to follow even though I watched the movie only once some time ago.
In the end, there's a short essay on his personal experience watching Dirty Dancing several times in his life.
I really appreciated a male's perspective on what is considered to be a movie that only women like. And I also enjoyed learning about the underlying topics in the movie and seeing that it's more complex than it seems to be at first sight. Another thing that I thought was interesting was that he showed how the lyrics of the soundtrack correspond to the story because I hadn't paid attention to that. Now I'm looking forward to watching the movie again and finding some new details that I hadn't noticed before.
I would recommend this book to anyone that likes or even loves the movie. It might also be helpful for students that want to write a paper on Dirty Dancing or movie analysis in general.
Many, many philosophical interpretations in addition to the plain-Jane synopsis/behind-the-scenes info that other movie-related books usually offer. Lee Nash does a full, scene-by-scene watch-thru of the movie and intersperses his writing with input from the screenwriter, Eleanor Bergstein, and other cinema writers; particularly Michele Schreiber and her book, American Post-Feminist Cinema (which I should really try and track down to read, too). I really enjoyed the reference to Dirty Dancing as being 'Star Wars for girls,' commonalities between it and that of the movie 'Blue Velvet,' Schreiber's interpretation of the plot as being First Meeting/Courtship/Consummation/Problem/Resolution/End (with the Transformation being love as a transformative agent for someone to become a better version of themselves), the character Robbie being a Randian Egoist and a literal Fountain of water being poured on his Head, Patrick Swayze's belief in Johnny & Penny's relationship being the one that lasts after the events of the movie occur, and deleted scenes that would've changed an audience opinion against Johnny or the owner's nephew, Neil.
* I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.