Seeing Music 2

The Arts

Films can be saved by music. Try watching the opening sequence of ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ with the sound off – it’s like seeing someone’s terrible home movies. But with the John Barry score in place, it’s transformed to something special. This year, the excellent score to ‘Inception’ lifted the visual elements and showed the director understands the effect of music – whereas it becomes obvious that the director James Cameron can’t ‘hear’ music. When you watch ‘Avatar’, listen to how it’s almost ruined by a bombastic score full of musical cliches.

I liked the opening tension notes of ‘Barbarella’ so much I made them into my ring-tone. The stunning score for ‘Witchfinder General’, which evoked Greensleeves, was never released as a CD, but remains a high point in counterbalancing visuals and music. Other perfect storms of music and image would include the Strauss waltz for 2001, Vangelis for Blade Runner, Jerome Moross’s score for The Big Bountry, John Williams for Jaws, Michel Legrand for The Go-Between. More recently, the score for Sunshine worked beautifully with the visuals – maybe SF inspires good music.
What’s your best audio/visual match?

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5 comments on “Seeing Music 2”

  1. jan says:

    Hiya Chris
    will write properly soon bin havin trouble with the hotmail
    i always really liked the Vangelis score to the Mutiny on the Bounty film that starred Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins it was really great and matched the sailing ship moving across the ocean so well …. i really think the film was underrated it was a good picture. Hope ur not workin too hard See ya jan

  2. Lou Morgan says:

    Clint Mansell’s soundtracks – “Moon” in particular. It might well be that when you get the right SF film with the right composer, the effect is sublime. “Dead Reckoning”, the Mansell track which runs over the last scene of “Smokin’ Aces” is a great match, too.

    I’ve also got a real thing for Clinton Shorter’s “District 9” soundtrack, which is equal parts haunting and dramatic. Wikus’s heroic theme, which becomes “Exosuit” on the soundtrack listing, is so clever, and echoes so many other heroic themes that it can’t fail to push the right buttons.

  3. Steve says:

    This is going back quite a ways, but I’d have to include “Psycho”. The cliches were NOT cliches at that time; it’s been ripped off a thousand times since then. “Dances with Wolves” had a very moving score; there are so many of them I’m at a loss. My wife sometimes gets annoyed with me for apparently ignoring the actual movie and commenting on the score instead. I have very sensitive ears; one guitar string slightly out of tune in a musical score (and it happens) is like (speaking of cliches)fingernails on a blackboard to me.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    Every cliche has a first time. Then everyone says, “That is so perfect!” and rips it off forever. The Star Wars music may be bombastic, etc. but it fits the film perfectly. Since I usually object to music in a film – why do I insist on that series’ music? It is fantasy, bombastic? Sci Fiction needs music? Dunno.

  5. Ken says:

    Kirk Douglas dances on the oars in “The Vikings”

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