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Thursday, September 15, 2011

The music side to movies

It all plays too well in my ears.  Every time the original Superman or Superman II comes on , I'm instantly hooked.  I've seen it a thousand times.  I know most of the words by heart.  I've seen every take, cut, director's cut made.  That's not to say I felt that way about all four films (five if you include Superman Returns).  I enjoyed Superman III with Richard Pryor.  It was entertaining and drove us into the upcoming computer age.  Superman IV had little to be desired.  But the first two - amazing!  So why am I discussing Superman?  Because of what makes it so great - the music!!

Superman was greatly casted and filmed.  For it's time, it had effects that seemed so real.  It's hard to imagine anyone else playing the role that Christopher Reeves cemented, even though Brandon Routh did a fairly decent job reprising his role in Superman Returns.  However, you can't have Superman without the wonderful score composed by John Williams.  It revs you up, gets you excited, and makes you believe you can put on a cape and fly (although I highly advise against doing so unless you are on the ground trying for a takeoff...just make sure no one is around and if they are, record it and post it on youtube). 

Musical scores are 50% of a movie's quality.  Think about it.  E.T., one of my all-time favorite films, is a fantastic movie.  But the musical score elevates it, takes it to a different level.  Would the scene where Elliot takes off on his bike with E.T. in the basket up front, flying across the moon, have been as powerful without the brilliant musical score?  No.  It would've been cheesy and silly.  And without the music, you wouldn't recognize the movie by any other sound, other than maybe E.T.'s famous, "E.T. phone home."  And what about Star Wars?  Would Star Wars be all that it was without it's powerful musical score?   M

Music alone plays a character role.  Think about when the Empire enters the picture, or Darth Vader shows up.  The music is grim, deep, and dark.  Then we jump to Yoda giving youg Luke instructions on how to be a Jedi.  The music suddenly is soft, inspiring, rings of hope and desire.  Then of course, the main score that introduces the entire saga. 

The musical score of a film is just as powerful as the film itself.  Indiana Jones.  Star Wars.  Superman.  E.T.  Jurassic Park.  These are just some of the major films that are as easily recognizable by their sound as they are their appearance.  You can even go the way of horror films, classics such as Psycho, the Poltergeist theme, Nightmare on Elm Street, or John Carpenter's Halloween. 

You probably never sit back and truly realize the power music has on film.  It helps define the film, its characters and has a rather odd way of taking on the role of becoming a character of its own.  So the next time you are sitting, watching one of your favorite movies, pay close attention to how the film makes you feel.  Most of the time, it could be because it's mainly character-driven and built on the power of emotions.  But listen closely to the music because its the music that can stimulate those emotions and bring the film closer to your heart. 

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