A Musical is a film genre in which a narrative is told through the use of song and dance performed by the characters of the film.

The songs usually advance the plot or develop the film's characters, though in some cases they serve merely as breaks in the storyline, often as elaborate "production numbers".

The musical film was a natural development of the stage musical after the emergence of sound and film technology. Typically, the biggest difference between film and stage musicals is the use of lavish background scenery and locations that would be impractical in a theater. Musical films characteristically contain elements reminiscent of theater; performers often treat their song and dance numbers as if there is a live audience watching. In a sense, the viewer becomes the diegetic audience, as the performer looks directly into the camera and performs to it.

Popular Musical Films

  • The Wizard of Oz (1939 film)
  • 42nd Street (1933 film)
  • The Sound of Music (1965 film)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (1970 film)
  • Grease (1978 film)
  • The Little Mermaid (1989 film)
  • Moulin Rouge! (2001 film)
  • Chicago (2002 film)
  • Les Miserables (2012 film), also starring Hugh Jackman.
  • La La Land (2016 film)

The Greatest Showman

Songs are performed throughout the film as a way to progress and tell a story towards the audience.

Musical Numbers

For more information see The Greatest Showman: Motion Picture Soundtrack.


  • The 1930s through the early 1950s are considered to be the golden age of the musical film.
  • Hollywood released more than 100 musical films in 1930, but only 14 in 1931.
  • La La Land received 14 nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, tying the record for most nominations with Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950)
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