Singin' in the Rain
a hypertextual analysis

Hy-Structure Award made with storyspace


This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of US copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the editors are notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author and the notification of the publisher.

This essay first appeared in Postmodern Culture, Volume 8, Number 2, 1998 and is 'mirrored' here with permission.


This work presents a hypertextual reading of a key sequence, the song-and-dance number "You Were Meant for Me," from Kelly and Donen's 1956 musical Singin' in the Rain. The sequence is read as characteristic of the film's general semiotic principles, which combine several levels of seduction to establish an aesthetic claim for a properly musical cinema.

This reading represents an experiment or heuristic exercise meant to discover possibilities for interpretation (not just of film but of any complex text) in multi-linear, hypermedia presentation. Forced into an artificially singular sequence, the components of this reading might seem elliptical and repetitive; they are designed to be explored from various perspectives and in differing combinations. Though it has an argument and an interpretive agenda, this is not so much an essay as a text in the deepest sense: a fabric of ideas deeply and multiply connected.

There is of course always more than one way to read a hypertext. All the components of this text are listed in the table at right. You could begin with the numbered pages at the top of this list, begin instead with the collected presentation of the sequence, or choose some other point of entry. (You may want to bookmark this index page for later reference.) On the component pages you will find a large number of textual links representing various lines of connection and development.

This hypertext incorporates film extracts in the form of QuickTime movies. To view these extracts you must have QuickTime installed on your computer, and the QuickTime plug-in installed in your Web browser. If you do not have the plug-in installed, the movie extracts will have to be downloaded to your machine and played using a helper application.

This mirrored version of the essay has been upgraded to take advantage of QuickTime 3 and its new low bit rate codecs, and will operate best if you have QuickTime 3 installed. However, if you do not have QuickTime 3 it will still run, but the video clip 'streamed' will only be of the order of 3 frames per second.

Many pages are illustrated with images from the film. Each in-line illustration is linked to a larger version of the same image.

It is recommended that you use Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.x or later. QuickTime is available for Macintosh and Windows from the Apple QuickTime Web site.

Editor, Postmodern Culture.

Created in 1998 by Adrian Miles, details, republished 2006.