Movie Soundtracks

star wars tfa

What makes for a memorable movie score?

Typically when people hum cinema tunes, it’s always something original. No one ever hums a pop song that found it’s way into the credits of a film unless they just stepped out of the theater and it’s still lingering in their mind. I understand why popular songs of the time sometimes work for films. Granted sometimes those popular songs make the film (think Guardians of the Galaxy). But they work because the songs become part of the movie. They aren’t simply “sad Adele song plays while girl breaks up with boy and walks out into the rain.” There’s a purpose to the score and there has to be an emotional value behind it.

The soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy works with the theme of nostalgia which is a vital part of the protagonist, Peter Quill, as a character. It creates an atmosphere with meaning and the film also mixes in some original music as well. The same goes for Full Metal Jacket. The soundtrack consists of songs that were popular or came into being during the time of the Vietnam War. In this case, they help with constructing that time period and creating an atmosphere that works with the story rather than playing popular songs for no other reason than that they’re popular. This is one of the reasons why I’m continuously unsure about how I feel toward the most recent Great Gatsby film.

One of my favorite movie composers is Hans Zimmer who I appreciate most for his work with the Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean. Most people know the main theme to Pirates of the Caribbean well and I’ll admit, that song still makes me feel pumped up every time I hear it. It works well for the film because it shows the excitement and the fun Disney is having with a film based on an amusement park ride. Yet the score still has this dark undertone to it to represent the more grim areas of the film series. Yes, this is a Disney film about pirates, but it’s also going to aim itself at a slightly more mature audience. This is a tale of adventure on the high seas and it’s going to be a fun ride. Zimmer’s theme perfectly captures that feeling. To have songs from the Top 40s list at the time would ruin the atmosphere this film created for itself and also runs the risk of making it dated.

Original music or music that ties into the story allow a film to become timeless. The problem I have with the 2013 adaptation of the Great Gatsbyย  is that while the music plays with atmosphere, it also feels more commercialized than meaningful. Honestly, each time a new song play in the movie I was taken out of it. When I look back on it, it feels very 2013 and that’s not good especially with such a classic story that many people admire.

Perhaps is they took popular songs and redid them to sound like they were from the 1920’s it would have worked better aesthetically. Instead, it felt more like they were taking something vintage and trying to bring it into modern day without updating the plot or setting itself. As a result, it was jarring. Does this mean the movie is terrible and should never see the light of day? No. It just means that it lost a sense of meaning and atmosphere it could have easily had, had it been done in another way.

I think Star Wars also did well because of its score. The music from the original trilogy has become so iconic and the movies themselves are a large piece of pop culture. I was relived to see that John Williams had returned for the Force Awakensย and that this series wouldn’t tamper with the music in order to market it to a modern audience. They kept the classic, timeless, and unique aesthetic that it seems only Williams can do for Star Wars. Rey’s theme specifically illustrates her character perfectly from the moment it first plays when she is introduced to simply hearing it on Spotify. This soundtrack does not tie the music to the year it’s being released, but to the environment of the story being displayed on screen.

Movie scores have a stronger effect on the audience than the audience may even realize. And because of this, it helps a film to create something timeless that also works with the plot, characters, and settings. These things cannot be separate of each other and the music needs to play with emotions, build ups, and ultimately place the audience into this world for just a little while.

 

 

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Movie Soundtracks

    1. Thank you! They might be a little sporadic because of school and life, but I hope I can keep up with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. I feel like I’ve been waiting anxiously for that film for a while now haha I’ll have to name drop that one too after I see how it goes

                1. I think I watched all of it in 3 days, it was incredible. I had high expectations for it going in and it was different than what I thought, but so much better. I loved all the characters too and I liked how no one seemed to be a throw away. They all had a part to play and yeah it was basically awesome. haha

                  1. I think I was closer to a week, so you beat me lol Exactly, exactly… even side characters who seem small, still had an impact late on character development and/or story late. Good time to be a comic/superhero fan ๐Ÿ™Œ

                    1. Well I was also on Thanksgiving break when I watched it so I was able to dedicate myself to Netflix. haha I know, I’m so ready for Daredevil’s second season. I know there’s a lot of superhero content out there right now, but I’m not complaining. I mean that’s my genre, I love it!

                    2. I’m a relatively new superhero guy, the past three years or so. I know, it’s bringing in so much mainstream attention now, too. We’ll have to stay in touch, I need your expert opinions on the future releases! (:

                    3. My dad is a superhero fanboy so I was raised on the stuff which means I have a ton of useless information including releases haha And I know, each year like 4 more things get added on, but I do my best to keep up! haha

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s