Can you think back to the first piece of music your remember hearing in a film? Was it in a musical, or a character singing a song, a pop song used in a particular scene or were you simply transfixed by the emotion conveyed in a piece of scored music? I can remember hearing those opening bars to the Star Wars theme tune for the first time and the surge of adrenalin almost transporting me to a galaxy far, far away. Even now when I hear those scores from films of my childhood - ET, Indiana Jones or Close Encounters, even things like Grease or the main theme from The Deer Hunter, they are intrinsic to those characters and a time in my life and those films I don't think would have such a lasting impression without the music
Over the past few years I've been fascinated by the way that film makers use music in film, some more powerful and subtle than others. I'm just launching my weekly new podcast called Soundtracking, where each week I speak to a different director, actor, writer or composer about their relationship with music, both professionally and personally. It's an extension of a show I used to do on BBC 6Music where I was lucky enough to talk to film makers like Christopher Nolan and David O'Russell. Talking to Christopher Nolan about reuniting with legendary composer Hans Zimmer on the music for Interstellar, was fascinating and so insightful, it's now become one of my favourite scores of all time and an album that I listen to regularly. David O. Russell was a treat to spend time with and his knowledge and enthusiasm for music was infectious.
Music in film can have very different purposes and responses with an audience. Sometimes a contemporary song can be written in to the script, it becomes part of the narrative. Pulp Fiction is a great example, the scene where Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega take part in the dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim's, I bet you can hear that song in your head now which, if I hear it I instantly see that scene in my head. Tarantino for me was real maverick with how he approaches music in his films and set a standard and I think opened the doors for young film makers to not be afraid of using contemporary music. Nicholas Winding Refn is another favourite of mine, someone I'm desperate to get for my podcast, his recent film Neon Bible completely empowered by the score.
From making my Soundtracking programme, I not only feel I'm learning so much more about the world of music in film, I also pay more attention to the music and how it's used. I just saw Suicide Squad, which I really enjoyed. An aside point - I do think that so much is expected of the film, it didn't stand a chance with critics and sometimes you can think too much about a film. It's entertaining, it's fun, it's silly and some great performances.
Back to the music, director David Ayer has done a clever thing with using popular music when introducing his characters in Suicide Squad, the lyrics of the music he has chosen for each one tells you much about the characters within 30 seconds than a few minutes of dialogue could. A very clever and fun way of presenting his cast. If nothing hopefully in future you might give the music in film the love it deserves.
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