Moviemusicmusings

One of the most important things for me in film is a good soundtrack. Whether it is to convey emotion or demonstrate the passing of time, the choice of music is vital to my enjoyment and appreciation of the film as a whole. In terms of music, the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and BAFTAS only reward scores and original songs in film, leaving only the Grammys to acknowledge ‘compilation soundtracks’, where the music is not entirely original. Whilst original music compliments the purpose of the film directly, often a choice of a pre-existing song gives the film an authenticity, particularly if a recognisable song is chosen – as if the characters are living like us through the music we listen to.

 'Between the Bars' - Elliott Smith - Good Will Hunting

The track represents "the futile human attempt to find salvation in someone else"@myworldoffairy

This is particularly the case of my first choice, Between the Bars, from the Academy Award Winning Good Will Hunting. The song plays in its entirety, as the characters interact naturally, as if it had been put on in the bedroom. It is the perfect song to compliment an intimate scene, we see a snapshot of life and humanity from the characters, the simplicity of the acoustic guitar and single vocal haunting and melancholic. Whilst the music is atmospheric, the lyrics embody the intimacy of the interaction and the purpose of the relationship for Damon’s character - to escape reality, “forget all about/ The pressure of days/ I'll make you okay and drive them away/ The images stuck in your head”. Between the Bars is one of six songs by Elliott Smith in the soundtrack, but stands out the most, as it is most reflective of the film. What makes the film a favourite of mine is its presentation of human life and human issues, Between the Bars mirroring the futile human attempt to find salvation in someone else.

 'Everybody's Free' - Rozalla - Romeo and Juliet

DiCaprio and Danes as Romeo and Juliet@90s.loserr

In this multi-BAFTA winning film, the fiction of the universe that Baz Luhrmann creates is heightened, when Everybody’s Free, ‘one of the biggest dance anthems of the 1990s’, becomes a gospel wedding song. Quindon Tarver leads the choir in a beautiful cover of the song, as Romeo and Juliet are married. The use of this song is so effective in the film – firstly, as the wedding scene begins with the choir singing, the source of the music shown, as they sing in an opulent church, the beauty of the wedding scene is heightened by the echoing vibrato of the choir and smooth runs of Tarver. Secondly, it embodies the Shakespearean tragic irony, central to Romeo and Juliet, as ‘Everybody’s Free/to feel good’ is far from the reality of the story. This irony is heightened as the choir lower their voices, layering Friar Lawrence’s ‘These violent delights, have violent ends’ over the top, the two contrasting messages creating the absurd tension that the film is revered for.

 'Ain't No Sunshine' - Bill Withers - Notting Hill

"the scene is dynamic, the seasons changing and the people moving forward"@contando_dias

Also a BAFTA winning film, Notting Hill was recognised for its soundtrack with a Brit award. The use of Ain’t No Sunshine compliments the hollow heartache experienced by Grant’s character, as time passes. As he walks through the market, the scene is dynamic, the seasons changing and the people moving forward. Whilst this takes place, the stagnation of his feelings is emphasised by the continuation of the song. It is the perfect showcase of how the world moves on whilst we grieve loss. The deep bass notes create a heaving lulling sensation, as he moves rhythmically through the changing scene.

 'Young and Beautiful' - Lana Del Rey - The Great Gatsby

"The song accompanies a happy reunion, but the foreboding foreshadow is evident"@thegreatgatsbyny

Lana Del Rey's track is an example of a particularly effective original song. Working with the director, Baz Luhrmann, the desperation in the lyrics and the value of the superficial is the perfect accompaniment to the adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. The lyrics assert the characters’ material fulfilment, yet the emphasis is on the fear of rejection in the 20s culture. The song fits into Lana Del Rey’s discography perfectly, her persona projects through the song, as well as her haunting voice. The song accompanies a happy reunion, but the foreboding foreshadow is evident, much like the use of Everybody’s Free in Romeo and Juliet.

'Heroes' - David Bowie - The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

Coupled with 'Heroes', the scene achieves a euphoric sensation@thepopquotes

Finally, whilst not Academy level, Perks of Being a Wallflower has a wide range of accolades. It is a favourite of mine, significantly for the soundtrack, which uses songs contemporary to its 90s setting. Heroes, by David Bowie, appears twice in the film, both to signify social breakthroughs for introverted Charlie (Logan Lerman). The scene is meant to embody feeling ‘infinite’, and coupled with Heroes, it achieves the euphoric sensation described in the book. The song makes the ambiguous ending appear a happy one, the freedom and hopefulness of the song a warming accompaniment to the scene.

Sponsored links