Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The magic of music

 "Ah music. A magic far beyond all we do here!" - Albus Dumbledore

I had such a brilliant plan for this blog yesterday. After watching several movies over the weekend, I decided I would discuss sports movies; combining the two things I love most. I watched The Greatest Game Ever Played with Shia Labeouf, something I hadn't seen in a while and was going to give you wise people some great advice on sports films. Then I changed my mind because I watched Star Trek, and wanted to tell you why I love that brilliant movie so much. But something hit me last night as I was trying to go to sleep. On this occasion, I was finding it difficult for me to rest and decided to listen to some quiet, soothing music to rock me to sleep. While listening to the playlist I labeled "sleep music" about two years ago, I noticed just about every song was from a movie. The people who know me best know I love music, the people who know me even better, know I love soundtracks. I have a bunch of them (with the help of one specific friend) and am obsessed with a certain few. While listening to these great songs, things I haven't listened to in a very long time, I realized I could tell you every movie and the scene of that movie by just the song. Which then made me discover that music is probably one of the most important ingredients to a film.

Listening further to songs from soundtracks like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Blood Diamond, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, Revolutionary Road and most Pixar movies, I tried to imagine acting without knowing the music. A scene can drastically change without the music. Just think: pick a movie, any movie and think of a scene, now imagine it with no music just dialog. It changes a lot. Even the subtlety of a few notes in the background can mean a lot to a scene. But music has such an impact as well. Think of the film Jaws. John Williams creates two notes and you immediately think of a villain (watch this awesome scene from movie The Holiday, describing the magic of music - fast-forward to 4 minutes). Really anything that Williams creates you can imagine something: Darth Vader's theme, the E.T. theme, Hedwig's Theme; music can make characters seem more vicious, heroic, dangerous, admirable, scary, touching, caring. Yes, it has a lot to do with what the actor does with the character, the writing, directing, costumes; but music is how you relate it all together. I feel like sometimes the score of a film is easily over looked but after acquiring the soundtrack of Deathly Hallows - Part 2, I realized how significant that last song made me feel. Please, listen to it I swear it's totally worth it, plus it's only a minute long. You can just feel the emotion of the scene even with such simple notes.

After this entire score, I have declared its composer Alexandre Desplat my new favorite (surpassing Hans Zimmer who did Dark Knight, Pirates, The Holiday, Inception to name a few, and also Michael Giaachino who did Up, Ratatouille and Star Trek and many more). Desplat has done some terrific scores including the last two Harry Potter films and one of my favorites in Curious Case of Benjamin Button (if you need a soundtrack to sleep or to study to, this is it). He is quite fantastic. Although, there is one specific scene that is sticking out in my mind that truly moves me. It is from the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King in one of the last scenes and probably my favorite. Please, even if you don't know what's going on watch it here because mixed with the actors faces, the people bowing down to these unexpected heroes and the music (composed by Howard Shore), is extraordinary. Just imagine how different that scene would be with a different score or no score. Every film has this identity of notes that defines it, sometimes not as important like in a chick flick, but sometimes the game changer in a scene.

I sometimes find myself frustrated with the lack of recognition film composers get, but it's understandable. I realize it is difficult for some people to recognize the music when a big battle scene is going on, or the big dramatic end is coming, the focus is on the story and the actors. But I challenge you to notice the music more. Notice the difference a note can make, or an instrument or the volume. A note played on the bass is extremely different than on the clarinet. Pay attention to the music and acknowledge the contribution it makes to a scene, even if it takes you a few times to watch it. Realize how magical and truly extraordinary a few musical notes are to films. 

With that a few movie side notes.
1. The Apes have taken over America again, claiming this weekend's box office with an astonishing $54.8 billion (not much came out this weekend apparently). Although, the film got great reviews and I do plan on seeing it. Also, I must say I'm a little bittersweet with Harry claiming the third all-time global spot in the box office with $1.3 billion, surpassing Return of the King. The only thing standing in Harry's way to be the top grossing film ever is a large ship called Titanic and some Na'vi. Avatar holds the top spot with $2.7 billion made globally.
2. Seems like they are wasting no time to see if the Hunger Games is a success by scheduling the movies sequel to come out Nov. 22, 2013. The first film will premiere March 23, 2012 and I must say a very highly anticipated movie on my list next year. So far with all the pictures and kind words by the director about the acting, I have some high expectations right now.
3. Man am I excited for Wednesday. A film I am extremely excited about, The Help, comes to theaters for the midweek opening and the expectations are growing (especially with Rottentomates.com currently ranking it at 75% fresh). Considering I loved the book and the fact that Emma Stone is one of the stars of this film, I'm sure I will enjoy it immensely no matter what they leave out.

With that I say... Live long and prosper.

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