9 October 2014

Keeping Score

Think back to one of your favorite film moments in your mind. I know there are too many, but just pick one! Now keep that in mind as you read the rest.
Personally speaking, I have never been musically inclined. Didn't play any instrument and have been asked not to sing many a times.
Yet, there is something about the background music in movies that they use which just moves my soul. Because first of all, it's BACKGROUND music. You aren't meant to notice it. It floats around. behind the handsome man declaring his love for the beautiful lady and you forget to think about it.
And sometimes it creeps up on you just as the scared man follows the source of the strange noise in the middle of the night. And every now and then it swells up dramatically as two long lost brothers see each other for the first time in twenty years.
So, needless to say most of our recollections of favorite moments in film have been accompanied with some form of a 'score' (industry term for what you and I call background music). And it's importance seems to be on a steady rise.
Why, you ask? Good question!
When we stand around and talk about the barista spelling our name wrong in Starbucks again, we refer to this as an ordinary exchange. Now, who in their right mind would pay £8 to sit for two hours and watch something ordinary?
So, a director thinks to himself, how do I capture my audience? You throw some simple music in the mix! Play it softly on the same Starbucks conversation and even that seems like a pithy and engaging conversation.
Music does more than just help turn something ordinary into something more. In films like, Pirates of the Caribbean which has no lack of fantasy in it the score help the viewer in relating to the scene unfolding in front of them. Johnny Depp's indecipherable but witty dialogue becomes funnier, the silent love between Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom becomes palpable and the Kraken becomes a bigger enigma, hence more frightening.
Watch the film on mute, and other than the wonderful shots, you don't enjoy it half as much as you would. And the same could be said for Inception, The Avengers and many others. And now, regular recording artists are becoming more intrigued by the world of film scores. Very famously, Adele with her original song for Skyfall which won her the Golden Globe in 2013. More recently, Ed Sheeran or a.k.a the man with the delectable voice sang an original song for The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug.
And even the Can't-Do-No-Wrong Beyoncé has redone a version of her "Crazy in Love" for the upcoming film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey. And while I have no enthusiasm for the film, I am waiting rather impatiently for the song and to see it's usage. This is the unofficial version of it, to give you an idea

But there are the films that exist that have all the potential. They have the story, the actors and they even get it just right with the dialogue and then they lose me with the score. 12 Years a Slave was one such recent example (Even though it was composed by Hans Zimmer and he is a man at whose altar I would worship at) I really truly enjoyed it, but would I ever watch it again? I think not. Music gives it drama, it gives emphasis, it gives dimension, it gives feeling to what technically isn't real. It makes the pretense, the acting of it all real.
And it's not just in major blockbusters like these. Light hearted films, like the original Pink Panther theme song, which has now become an iconic piece of music, also have their place in my shelf of great scores. The use of pre-existing songs has also been employed in films such as Magic Mike, Guardians of the Galaxy, 10 Things I Hate About You and several more. It's all there, brewing just underneath the surface
My All-Time Favorite piece of score: Narnia Battle Theme
My Current favorite piece of score:  Daniel Hart's Ruth and Sylvie from Ain't Them Bodies Saints
So next time you are busy crying over just how beautiful Ryan Reynolds is in a movie, take a step back and enjoy the music.

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