Movie music is a less recognised but still crucial part of any movie. Music provides atmosphere and feeling to any scene. We all have our favourites, whether it be the dramatic suspense of the iconic theme from Jaws, the motivational Chariots of Fire theme, or many others. When done well, the music in a movie can shape an audience’s response to a scene and move us beyond just the visuals and script. Here we look at a few moments in film where the music moved us.
Disney’s TRON: “TRONaction”
The theme from Disney’s TRON is a signature piece of electronic music history. Composer Wendy Carlos is still highly regarded as one of the most influential artists in modern music, and her score for TRON is a great example of the symphonic elements that instruments like a Moog synthesiser can produce. It’s a soundtrack that set the bar for decades of digital artists that followed.
TRON’s theme starts off soft and ominous with a strange and almost discordant melody as a hook. The tune builds into a slight crescendo then repeats its core with some minor tweaks and enhancements. It all only lasts about a minute and a half, but the impact of the composition makes an instant impact when viewing the film. It’s a classic track that fans instantly recognise and a prime example of a time when electronic and digital artistry was in its infancy, just like the film. [Andrew Hawkins]
Suicide Squad: “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? British rock group Queen released the rock ballad “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 1975 which pop punk group Panic! at the Disco covered in 2016 to be used as the main theme for Suicide Squad.
You might ask: Why was it picked for the movie? The song really fits because of its serious content and cheerful refrain. And that is what Suicide Squad represents. On the one hand, you have the serious story content, where the witch-goddess Enchantress tries to take over the world and destroy it. Then, on the other hand, you have a crazy squad of six super-villains who are trying to stop her in a very crazy, over the top and absurd way.
Looking closer at the lyrics, we also see some parallels in the troublesome life of the “poor boy” in the song and the freaky lives of the members of the Suicide Squad. Both the song and the film deal with issues such as coping with breaking the rules and the endless battle between life and death, while some members (yes, Harley Quinn, I am talking about you!) are actually playing on the edge of death. With her craziness and being under the influence of the famous Joker, you could almost consider “Bohemian Rhapsody” Harley Quinn’s theme song. [Cyanide3]
Legends of the Fall: “The Ludlows”
In 1994, Legends of the Fall debuted an all-star cast. The frontier film began at the turn of the century and covered several decades of the Ludlow family. Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn, Anthony Hopkins, and Julia Ormond brought major star power to this epic film. Edward Zwick, known for phenomenal achievements such as Glory, Traffic, and Shakespeare in Love, directed the project. Zwick chose James Horner to compose the score for the film; a role Horner undertook in Glory. The central piece of that score was the theme of the film called, “The Ludlows”.
Horner recorded the music with the London Symphony Orchestra. “The Ludlows” gives a small bit of tranquillity in an otherwise busy and hostile film. The listener is almost forced to pause and consider that the conflict driving the film takes place in such a serene environment, bringing calm to the chaos. Horner received a Golden Globe nomination for the original score, and the film won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. “The Ludlows” serves as an audible extension of that incredible cinematography. [Ryan Aday]
The Chronicles of Narnia: “The Battle”
The Chronicles of Narnia is one of the greatest films of all time, and its soundtrack is no exception. Most of the main music was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams, who has also composed the music for Shrek and The Martian, among many other renowned films. He has won numerous awards for his work, as well as Grammy and Golden Globe nominations.
“The Battle” is the main title music of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and is instantly recognisable. A truly iconic piece of music, it creates suspense, has calmer moments, as well as adding the true enormity of a battle and all the emotion it carries into one song. A truly classical symphony orchestral piece, it takes you to another world, creating a fantastical journey for you to partake on. Listening to it instantly lifts you and makes for very easy listening.
This is a classic track and one that will be remembered for years to come. [Kitty Bates]