The Commentator

Posted on 25th July, 2018
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Furnishing allusions, creating illusions

As Tina opened the door of the haunted house, a bat flew out of the door. She paused, shivering, before taking a brave step inside. Evil laughter cackled through the walls of this house, covered with cob webs and dirt accumulated through centuries. Tina looked around to find the source, until she glanced at the roof. Dangling two feet above her, seemingly airborne, face pointing towards her with his legs towards the roof was the scarred, evil face of Golgerman, who proceeded to slash Tina to ribbons before hanging her corpse on the wall.

Imagine this for me. Imagine the scene you just pictured within the eye of your mind; tell me if it scares you. Imagine this video with precisely the exact amount of sound that I’ve described. 99% of you would not be scared, no matter how impressive the video looks. This is because of an extremely crucial game changer. There is NO MUSIC. What is a movie without its audio?

Music is indispensable to a movie. As a commentator, music works to subconsciously direct your feelings towards a certain scene. With the right music, a break up scene can be made to sound gloomy, or a battle can sound heroic. So how does this make a difference to a movie? I like to think of music as a psychological nudger. It provokes feelings, which the storyline might not be able to evoke in us at that specific point in the movie.

Music composers also use music in many other clever manners. It can be used to disguise the bad guy. If the music score for the villain is always pleasant until the plot of the movie reveals him for what he is, and then he’s shadowed by more sinister music, the audience can be successfully fooled into believing the ruse, thus creating effective illusions.

The most awe inducing and inspiring function of music is emotional connectivity. No other medium but the beauty of music can unify an audience as completely, succinctly and subtly as it does. The national anthem is to patriotism what ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is to workout inspiration. Anyone who denies the power of music in defining the moods, emotions and subsequent reactions is doing cruel injustice not to the movie, but to themselves.

The score of The Social Network is distinct in it being only the third film to win the Academy award for Best Original Score that features electronic based music. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross come together to create the music of this film to create a surreal experience of the changing world and of the change in the lead character Mark Zuckerberg’s journey from his dorm room to becoming the youngest billionaire in the world. For a complex screenplay that alters timelines so often, they produced a score that is as complex, while at some scenes reverting back to the classics by using the romantic era composition ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ by Edvard Grieg in the rowing scene.

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Ennio Morricone needs no introduction. On the off chance that you were under a submerged ship or coma induced sleep, please do listen to his score from the movie, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly because epic doesn’t get any bigger than this.

In the recent years, he has produced several noteworthy scores that include Malèna, The Best Offer and The Hateful Eight,which fetched him his first competitive Academy Award.

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Alan Menken is the music composer of several Disney classics such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas. Disney princesses are characterized by their proclivity to burst out into soulful melodies at odd times, their varying moods and trials are always accompanied by music that adds life to their animations. Menken was a genius in his field, because all four of the above movies have received an Academy Award, notwithstanding movies such as Tangled, Hercules that won awards in Best Original Song category.

Let me give you a hint about the next composer: Star Wars and Jaws. Yes, I’m talking about John Williams. He is the greatest, most iconic, splendid composer of all times. Luke’s theme is the most recognizable score in film history. No, I’m not saying this without proof, American Film Institute has designated the score for Star Wars as the greatest score of all time. The movie Jaws, with its ominous two score ostinato has become synonymous with sharks and impending danger. John Williams has composed music for nine of the twenty greatest movies of all time. Legendary!

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James Horner is a familiar name to most of us. Rose’s theme is the most soulful, optimistic, delicate score I’ve ever come across. Titanic is memorable for many reasons, and the score of this film will stay forever in the annals of time. In the words of Horner, “My job....and it’s something I discuss with Jim [James Cameron ]all the time....is to make sure at every turn of the film it’s something the audience can feel with their heart. When we lose a character, when somebody wins, when somebody loses, when somebody disappears....at all times I’m keeping track, constantly, of what the heart is supposed to be feeling. That is my primary role.”

Here’s my favourite, most peppy, intriguing and endearing theme- Henry Mancini for The Pink Panther. There is absolutely no way you couldn’t have heard this one, but plug in anyway and put your spy glasses on.

Check out this video for some of the famous theme scores ever composed in Hollywood:

Ludovic Bource, the recent Academy winner for his work on the movie ‘The Artist’ is an exceptional man, for channelling the glory of the silent-era in the modern day is not a mean task. “The Artist is a film, a piece of cinema, in the style of the golden age: sometimes you can find some modern music or contemporary touch, but for me the music is just a love letter to the golden age” he said.

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The best are always mentioned in the end. AR Rahman is India’s pride and joy. His music has qualities of resonance and depth that few others have achieved. Rockstar is the favourite album of several generations, and every single sigh and laughter, success or failure, trials and defeats, rage and peace has an accompanying mellifluous tune of its own, making Rockstar one of the greatest movies of Indian cinema.

I’d like to sign off with the words of Randall Poster, the celebrated music supervisor of Skyfall, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel, “What I most enjoy are the moments of musical discovery, when a fortuitous marriage of music and image enhances the moment in an unimaginable way - when the musical element brings something to life and brings context to a cinematic moment that had been dormant”.

- Open Face Team


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* This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinians expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarly to open face media organization, or any other group or individual.*

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