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Krzysztof and Zbigniew: Great Preisner Scores for Kieslowski Movies

Five Memorable Uses of Operatic Music in Movies

Five Great Original Film Scores I Love

When music occurs in film, as we all know, it’s either soundtrack or score. I think more focus is put on the soundtrack than one of the most important parts of the film, the score. It represents the mood and feeling of the movie, and can carry all the emotions without even speaking a word.

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Magnolia by Jon Brion

In my favourite movie of all time, I could list hundreds of reasons why I love it as much as I do, but one of the top ten would have to be Jon Brion’s fantastic score. I bought the CD a few months back, and it’s been playing over and over almost non-stop. It’s easy to miss it while watching the movie, but every time I watch it now that music is in my mind; I notice it, and it affects me. It’s an almost perfect score, for a perfect movie.

American Beauty by Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman’s score to Sam Mendes’ breakthrough feature manages to be consistently soft, even when it’s in its angriest mood. The complex layer of disputing emotions conveyed through the music track the path of the characters as they are pulled along a storyline of uprising and downfall. An incredibly original, poignant and affecting score that’s enough to put a tear in your eye every time:

Mulholland Dr. by Angelo Badalamenti

The film’s reliance on music is extraordinary, and even though not all of it is composed by Badalamenti, much of it including the terrific ‘Love Theme’ is. It’s incredibly sad, moving music that lulls the viewer into the same dreamlike state of frightening dystopian disorder that Lynch does with his film. Listen to it for yourself:

Requiem for a Dream by Clint Mansell

Arguably the most well known score on this list, Clint Mansell’s score, while being overused in various advertisements and television programs, consists of much more than just the popularised, searing Lux Aeterna. The downward path of drug abuse portrayed in the film and it’s effect owes a lot to the music, which subliminally makes it seem more horrifying and disturbing, if that were indeed possible. Check out this piece from the score, which is nowhere near as appreciated as it should be:

The Fountain by Clint Mansell

The second album from Clint Mansell also features some of his best, most underrated work as a composer. While the film itself was rather disappointing and conflicted among critics, the score is an inarguable success. The track ‘Death is the Road to Awe’ is one of the ten best pieces of musical score I have ever heard, and it’s not the only one worth mentioning. So much of the album is pure brilliance.

Those are my picks. I could list more, but this is plenty of listening material for you guys for now. Hopefully you can find the time to listen to some of the tracks above… there are many more on YouTube. If there’s anything you’d like to add, leave a comment below.

5 Memorable Uses of Music in Stanley Kubrick Movies

Stanley Kubrick was a master of many things when making movies — direction, cinematography, set direction — but one of the top choices he consistently made was musical. From Dr. Strangelove right down to Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick made musical choices that were insanely memorable. Here are perhaps the five most memorable:

1: We’ll Meet Again, Dr. Strangelove (1964)

The image of countless bombs exploding as this calming music plays is a simply magic use of contrast. If the world were to end as abruptly and annoyingly as it does in Strangelove, this music playing would make it a damn sight more comfortable – and funnier!

2: The Blue Danube Waltz, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)

The beautiful outer space has never looked so stunning as when Kubrick portrayed it alongside the amazing music of Strauss. Classical music made a memorable debut for SK as he mixed memorable imagery with insanely calming tunes.

3: The Thieving Magpie, A Clockwork Orange (1971)

That fantastic scene as Alex and his droogs walk down the riveria, frozen in thought, as this classical piece plays and violence breaks out will be forever ingrained in my mind. A scene which uses violence in a manner which makes Tarantino look like butter.

4: Sarabande, Barry Lyndon (1975)

Kubrick’s three hour biopic based on the novel is one of his best, most ingenious films, a sadly underrated film that glows with excellence every time you watch it. And this haunting theme… I never get tired of it.

5: Waltz No. 2 from Jazz Suite No. 2, Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

It’s a little bit inventive, a little bit haunting and a little bit cheeky. One of my favourite classical waltzes (beaten only by #2 on this list), and one which always brings to mind the shocking opening shot of Kubrick’s final film.

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Any music from Kubrick I missed? What music (from any director or movie) do you think was particularly memorable or well-chosen? Leave a comment below.

5 Memorable Overtures In Cinema

It’s a shame films don’t have them any more. Some say they’re out of date, but I believe they’re part of what made the cinematic experience in the 50s and 60s (particularly in David Lean films) the best, even though I wasn’t alive in that era. I’m talking about overtures, a fragment of film scores which seem to have escaped us. Some of you might remember when you went to the cinemas a while back and they had that really, blaring triumphant music, before the film had even started. That’s what I’m talking about. Here are five memorable overtures — not necessarily the best, but ones that spring to mind — when I think of those great themes.

1: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

In David Lean’s best movie, we are greeted with the fantastic, epic tale of war and peace that spans an amazing timeline. From breathtaking cinematography to amazing acting and everything in between, it’s impossible not to rejoice when we hear or see the first few frames of this magnificent movie.

2: Ben-Hur (1959)

I have a lot of admiration for the incomprehensible effort that went into the making of this movie, and although it’s not one of my favourites, it sure is beautiful to look at, and a success in my book. And the opening… sublime.

3: The Ten Commandments (1956)

When it comes to historical epics, even if you have an admittedly sub-par movie, as I feel this is, at least you’re likely to have a great soundtrack, and this is certainly no exception.

4: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)

Though when many people think of the music at the start of this Kubrick classic, they think of it’s fantastic, epic opening to the tune of Also Sprach Zarathustra, that, technically, is not the film’s overture. The real overture comes before it, but in the interest of sound and satisfaction, I’ll include a clip from that memorable opening scene instead.

5: Dancer in the Dark (2001)

Ah… You’ve got to admire Lars von Trier for putting in an awesome overture for his film long after they had died out. Perhaps the most epic of them all, the amazing emotion I feel when listening to this track will always stay with me.

So those are my choices, now… what’s yours?

What overtures do you cherish every time you hear their notes? What do you think of my choices? Leave a comment and lemme know what you think.

Thanks for reading.

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