Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Soundtracks Can Make the Movie Better

The musical score is an often overlooked element to film and television. Yet, it's one of the most important elements to a movie's success. It effects the feel of the show or film and the intensity of the scene. Sometimes, the only way we can recall a movie is based off of the music in a scene. Over the years, I have seen films become legendary thanks to the soundtrack.

Movies like The Crow (arguably mediocre at best) were transformed into sensations thanks to the INCREDIBLE musical contributions of the soundtrack. I of course, have a few soundtracks that remain in HEAVY rotation, and am constantly adding more and more soundtracks each and every day. MY List of Super-Important Most Beloved Non-Musical Movie Soundtracks that only further enhanced the Movies (in no order):

American Beauty.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
The Crow.
Natural Born Killers.
Pulp Fiction.
Edward Scissorhands.
Lost Highway.
Tim Burton's Batman: The SCORE.
Slumdog Millionaire.
Requiem for a Dream.

A FANTASTIC example of how a soundtrack can affect the mood of a movie lies within Ridley Scott's fantasy masterpiece "LEGEND". In the director's edition DVD set, we are presented with TWO versions of the film. One is the US Theatrical Release, with the soundtrack provided by Tangerine Dream. The other, is a European edition with a classical score composed by Jerry Goldsmith. This being one of my favorite films of all time, I can say this without any hesitation. Both versions are INCREDIBLE and INCREDIBLY different. The US release is nostalgic for me, and is significantly more lighthearted... it invokes all the sense of whimsical fantasy I yearned for as a little girl. As an adult, watching the European edition, it still invokes the ache for a world of fantasy, but now, that world is darker and deeper.

Another example of how a soundtrack can change a film is best shown in soundtracks that unfortunately, HURT the movie. In example, Prince's soundtrack for Batman unarguably dates what COULD have been a timeless movie. I still love it, but every time that familiar effeminate voice and screeching synth come on, I know I am watching a movie from the 80's.

Opening title tracks and sounds also set a rather important mood for the visual journey you are about to embark on- this is particularly significant for TV Shows... think about it. Imagine LOST without it's ominous BONNNNG or The Golden Girls without "Thank you for Being a Frieeeend", or (god forbid) The Simpson's opening orchestrated perfection by Danny Elfman. My particular favorite opening theme song right now would have to be True Blood "Bad Things" By Jace Everett.

So, tell me, why are these composers, musical arrangements, and musicians not given the credit they're due? Well, when it's done right, they're meant to be the underdog. These tunes are the subliminal message that helps make the show or film's message resonate. Do me a favor kids, buy the soundtracks to your favorite movies. Download those tunes from your favorite TV Shows. Have a go- give a listen, and be prepared to be teleported right back into those stunning moments of cinemeatic recall!

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