Friday, August 15, 2008

MOVIE MUSIC MAGIC



I’m off on a three-day getaway to the coast with my family, so I’ll be checking in periodically but unlikely to post anything new until after Tuesday. But I can’t think about the ocean without drifting off into the dreamscape of Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero. Forsyth would have been my choice for filmmaker I most miss on the cultural landscape if I’d ever managed time enough to answer the questions on my own damn quiz. The spectrally beautiful Scottish environs he conjures for this 1983 classic—one of the absolute peaks of a lousy decade for the movies—are as much of the mind as of geography, and they've haunted me ever since I saw the movie theatrically 25 years ago. That's why Mark Knopfler’s ethereal score is so touching and expansively gorgeous—it gets into the same spaces that the images from Forsyth’s magical comedy do. This is one of the great merging of music and movie imagery I can think of. So I offer you this beautiful performance of the movie’s main theme, from a 1997 Montserrat concert, as a buoyant gesture of weekend peace, harmony and productivity.



And in a bald-faced attempt to generate some conversation over the weekend, I’m wondering what you’d say were some other great marriages between movie music and imagery. I’ll offer up a couple of others off the top of my head—how about Franz Waxman and Sunset Boulevard?



Or Pino Donaggio and Dressed to Kill?



Michael Giacchino’s scores for The Incredibles and Speed Racer are brilliant compliments to their brilliant films. For some reason Joe Hisaishi’s music for Sonatine just popped into my head. And what about Angelo Badalamenti’s collaborations with David Lynch?



Or Ennio Morricone with Sergio Leone (and seemingly hundreds of others)? And of all Bernard Herrmann’s indelible work, right now I’m thinking of the spectacular orchestral conclusion of Hangover Square and those ominous basso clarinets that signal the rising of the dead in Jason and the Argonauts.



What ones come to your mind?

23 comments:

Laddical said...

To be completely obvious and banal about it (especially given that I just finished writing a post of my own about how I was finally "over" these movies), I think John Williams' score for Star Wars (that is, "A New Hope") falls in line here. Particularly that oft-cited moment when Luke is watching the binary sunset - say what you will about the prequels overall, but in ending Revenge of the Sith the way he did, Lucas was at least wise enough to realize that that was the key scene to the entire saga, and a large part of that is Williams' introspective scoring in that moment.

Flickhead said...

Sunset Boulevard = Franz Waxman.

...shame, shame...

One of my favorites in this topic: Jack Nitzsche's woozy glass harmonica theme for Cutter and Bone.

Rick Olson said...

I love the wonderful Zither music by Anton Karas on The Third Man; that light, airy theme completely belying the action that is on screen.

Edward Hegstrom said...

Interesting topic to bring up now, as I just re-watched CARRIE yesterday and found myself speculating about the film that might have been had Bernard Herrmann lived to score it. With not a single frame changed, I suspect it would have made for a very different experience.

David Lowery said...

I just saw Local Hero for the first time last month. What a wonderful film! And that score...it's something else. I'm usually not one for guitar driven scores, but that one hits all the right notes.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Flickhead, what can I say? The way my head's been lately, I'm lucky I didn't ascribe the score to Erich Wolfgang Korngold! Fixed, and then some. Thanks for keeping me honest and/or awake!

Virgil Hilts said...

You know how I feel about this film and Bill Forsyth. Thank you for posting this. And for putting the review of The Dam Busters in your "On The Marquee" section of SLIFR. That's a really good movie that I would never have seen had it not been shown on the old Z Channel.

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Chris Voss said...

A friend and I put together a list of about 32 instances where music and film collided together in a kind of wonderfully, goofy soup of fun.

No original scores, though...sorry!

http://monkeyflicks.blogspot.com/2007/02/music-in-movies-setting-mood.html

Moviezzz said...

Have to agree. LOCAL HERO is one of the great scores of all time. And the film, well, they also don't get much better.

I also wish Forsyth would come back. His early films (THAT SINKING FEELING, GREGORY'S GIRL and LOCAL HERO) will always be favorites.

The Wrong Box said...

Yeah, Local Hero is great. What I especially like is the way that the closing theme crescendos as it goes into the credits, which is a very unusual move. Based on this article that discusses the ending, I think it may have been a lucky accident:

http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/?p=2255 (scroll down a bit)

Comfort and Joy is another great Forsyth film that hasn't been mentioned yet. (Amazing performance from Bill Paterson, and Patrick Malahide plays a good guy!)

As for the original question -- perfect marriage of music and image -- I have three words: Dario Argento. Goblin.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I love Local Hero, the movie and the soundtrack, and haven't seen/heard it in years. HB, old boy!
-BPW

driveindude said...

Well, who could forget the wonderful marriage of Blake Edwards images and Henry Mancini's wonderful scores.

This is one of my favorites:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDahrKdv9Co

And laddical mention John Williams. These are my two favorites, pre Star Wars:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i-e-RAkEGI
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbfZWVSF180&fmt=18

And Lets not forget John Barry's highly underrated score the 1976 version of King Kong:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvoPzKr0v6Q&fmt=18

driveindude said...

I know this is off topic a bit but the one aspect of film making the that perfect marriage between an original theme song and film. Particularly when it's used in the opening credits. Here's one of my favorites, "Where Angeles Go, Trouble Follows" starring the great Rosalind Russell and a young Stella Stevens.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_sUWF5Incw

Flickhead said...

Drive-in Dude:

Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows has been high on my list of personal pleasures ever since I saw it in a theater back in the 60s, playing on a double bill with Jerry Lewis in The Big Mouth!

Ted Pigeon said...

I'll have to check out some of Forsyth's films.

In the mean time, here are some of those movie magic moments marrying image and sound that stand out to me:

The opening scenes of Ridley Scott's gorgeous-looking Legend with Jerry Goldsmith's sympho-electronic score. It's pure atmosphere. The movie is undone by its script, but Scott's images and Goldsmith's music sometimes come together so beautifully.

And if we're talking John Williams, his finest moment in my book is in the Blue Fairy sequence from A.I. Artificial Intelligence. I don't think I've ever been so emotional watching a movie was I was when I saw/heard this. It still does me in just the same. Somehow, in a matter of notes (aided by Spielberg's sublime images) he captures such profound pain, desire, sadness, and wonderment.

Also, Ennio Morricone's score for the Untoucables will always stand out to me as one of his very finest. Both the sax-based tragedy theme and the heroic motif he wrote for the crime-busting team give such life to DePalma's images. Pure magic to me.

Those are just a few...

driveindude said...

Jerry Goldsmith's score for LEGEND was replaced in favor of the techno-symphonic TANGERINE DREAM.

Jerry's original score appeared in the European and Japanese versions. I actually have a copy of it on Laserdisc, the Japanese release.

Ted Pigeon said...

Goldsmith's score was put back into the film for the two disc DVD release a few years ago. Now both versions of the film are available.

bill said...

Carter Burwell's scores for Fargo and Miller's Crossing, Bill Conti's for The Right Stuff, Alaric Jans's for Homicide...

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Wrong Box: Thanks so much for that Bordwell link. Not enough has been written on this movie, and I welcome any chance to read good writers talking about it. Bordwell's description of that bittersweet ending gave me almost as big a chill as seeing it myself.

And since we're discussing John Williams a lot here, I'm going to decide that it wouldn't be inappropriate to chime in for what I think is his best work-- the score for 1941, which captures the silliness, bombast, satirically epic glory and moments of grace and subtlety (yes, I contend there are moments of grace and subtlety in that film!) of Spielberg's much-derided comedy with thrilling scope and energy.

driveindude said...

I don't care how many times I get kicked in the teeth for it, I also contend that 1941 is a VERY FUNNY movie... but in a good way!!!

Mary P said...

I would have to say 2001 Space Odyssey. Although not original they had written an original score but while in the editing room things changed and I don't think I could imagine anything else except Strauss.

Daniel Singleton said...

Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows" from Atom Egoyan's "Exotica" blew me away. (It was so amazing, yet so sad ...)

And speaking of Egoyan, every music cue in "The Sweet Hereafter" was perfect. PERFECT.