Music in Film

Maybe it’s just the music snob in me, but I thought the music categories were particularly disappointing at the Academy Awards Sunday night.  Not even my adoration for Zachary Levi could save it.  The original songs in particular seemed incredibly weak and why were there only 4?  Suspect.

Throughout the show they did segments on Oscar history, which meant that this was all done to a backdrop that featured some of the most recognizable scores in movie history.  The juxtaposition seemed especially harsh.

Admittedly, I’ve never much cared for Gone with the Wind.  I don’t hate it, but I do think the character of Scarlett is insufferable.  Why people carry purses around with her face on them, I’ll never know.  Despite this, as they entered the segment about the film I knew from the first note that it was Gone with the Wind.

And from that note forward I spent the entire ceremony thinking of the relationship between film and music.  An amazing score can elevate a mediocre movie into a good one and make a great movie an epic one.  A good score becomes intrinsically tied to all the emotions you felt when viewing the film and with a single note does have the power to transport us back to that experience.  The art of creating something that has the ability to evoke such strong emotions and reactions seems like one of the most powerful things an artist can create.

In my opinion, composers are often the unsung heroes of the film industry – especially given their importance to the final product.  Sure, we are familiar with the names Hans Zimmer and John Williams, but what about everyone else?

During the awards telecast I learned that John Barry had passed away during the In Memoriam segment.  John Barry is by no means an unknown in the film world, with 5 Academy Awards to his name – but I think often forgotten.  If remembered it is often for creating the score to Dances with Wolves.  But I have greater emotional ties to one of his other scores – Out of Africa.

Our typical family soundtrack changed when we would travel to Colorado for our annual vacations.  According to Mom, the mountains were made for two albums – John Denver’s Greatest Hits and Out of Africa.  For those unfamiliar with the film or soundtrack, the score was inspired by the second movement of Mozart’s “Clarinet Concerto” which is also featured in the film.

I honestly love every single thing about this score.  It reminds me of the best times in my life, in the most beautiful place in the world, surrounded by all the people I love.  And to this day I love driving through the mountains listening to it.  Who would have guessed that a soundtrack based on Africa would be so perfect for Colorado?  But I suppose an argument could be made for the correlation between soaring strings and the majesty of the mountains.

Originally this entry was just meant to be my reaction to the ceremony and the sharing of some of my favorite scores – but in researching information, composers, etc. for the entry I became too engrossed in the process.  I’ve honestly been listening to film scores for 3 days and have far too much information to share.

I have A LOT more to say on the subject, but thought I would start from a very real, personal place.  I look forward to sharing other favorites the next couple of days.

Until then, please enjoy…

Update – Sorry that particular video won’t play in my blog.  It’s my favorite though, so please follow the link to YouTube.  Gracias!


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