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Image & sound: “The Jazz Singer”

Blog
Image & sound: “The Jazz Singer”

04.12.2019

1927 film The Jazz Singer is widely known as the first sound and image film. One of the milestones of cinema history, it is the first film that drew major reactions from its audiences with the music and sound effects produced by vitaphone technology.

Text: Hande Sönmez
Traslated: Yetkin Nural
Collage: Sadi Güran

At a time known as the silent movies’ golden age, it was the first time that the audiences met with sound in a film. The first film that used synchronized image and sound, The Jazz Singer (1927), was produced by Warner Bros, and directed by Alan Crosland. Crosland directed several features for Warner Bros before, including Don Juan, but The Jazz Singer –as the first sound film– became the one that put his name in the history books. One of the best actors of the period, Al Jonson, who also was a successful comedian and singer, was in the leading role.

The opening line in The Jazz Singer, “Wait a minute, you haven’t heard anything yet”, is a tongue in cheek comment for the audiences, hinting at the mission of the film and the switch from the silent to the sound movies.

Honorary Award at the Oscars

The film was given the honorary award at the Oscar Ceremony, which was the special award handed out that year. The Jazz Singer tells the story of Jack, a musician who chooses to follow his own path instead of becoming a synagogue singer as his family wants him to be. Torn apart between the pressure from his family and his own dreams, the young man decides to follow his passion. The film takes the audience to a journey with young Jack, who sets down a challenging path as he gives up the five generation long tradition of synagogue head singers and dives into the jazz world.

It is possible to see how The Jazz Singer affected the cinema industry chronologically as well. The film created a huge impact in 1927. 1927 and the golden year of silent cinema, 1928, saw many great silent productions. Yet, by 1929, Hollywood made a soft switch into sound film and slowly progressed into closing the chapter of silent films.

Marking a great change and the end of the first chapter in cinema history, The Jazz Singer is deserving of its monumental position not only by its mission but also with its story and cast.

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