In the past, I did a post about the saddest movie scores. Of course, this was all based on only my own opinion, but the post itself has gotten a fair number of views. People continue to look at it even though I posted it over a year ago (incidentally, the post can be found here). In celebration of its success, mixed with an afternoon of a bit of boredom, I decided to include some of the pivotal songs in movie scores that I have heard. I thought about doing a list of the happiest songs in film scores, but I found it a bit too challenging – and by skipping that idea, I found this (far better) idea instead.
Pivotal songs in movie scores are sometimes hard to find, but they are the pieces of score which play just in time for a change in the film’s mood to occur, usually (but not always!) from bad situation to better. It plays when a hint of resolution for the protagonist’s problems is in sight, or when the storyline is coming near to its climax. In theaters, this type of music gives me chills, and is usually accompanied by marvelous acting. Why not devote an entire post to those pivotal measures of film score which often lend such strong emotions to the audience?
Good music tells a story without the use of words. It is very important for film scores to have that quality; with both music and words, audiences can feel a sweeping sense of emotion from watching such beautifully conducted films.
I will describe the films and the situations in some detail, but hopefully not enough to spoil the film if you have not seen it! I think I have done a good job, but be warned.
10. Drew’s Theme – Nancy Wilson
This score comes from Elizabethtown, starring Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom. A wayward story of death, life, love, and friendship, this song plays during an uplifting moment in the film for several characters, and describes the essence of a celebration of a person much missed.
9. No Words – Alan Silvestri
Originally penned by Carl Sagan, Contact was transformed from book to film and was a big hit. No Words is a song which occurs at the climax of the film, a truly pivotal moment for both the main character and everyone in the audience. It is one of the most human songs I have ever heard. The scene is pretty ineffable, which makes the song title very appropriate.
8. Father Kolbe’s Teaching – Orchestre Philharmonique National De Pologne
The Truman Show is a film that catches the attention of many people. The controversial questions it brings up (such as human privacy rights) are fascinating, and the film is simply well directed. There comes a point in the film where our protagonist realizes a larger truth, and has to make a big life change. This song encapsulates those crucial moments.
7. It Was Me – John Powell
A story is told during this scene of P.S. I Love You, a story of love and loss. And a secret is revealed, which changes the course of the entire story, at about 1:45. Funny how such a happy tune could love so many women (like myself) crying… and perhaps even some men!
6. Death! – Danny Elfman
Edward Scissorhands contains a score by Danny Elfman that nearly everyone can enjoy listening to. The strings by themselves stir up enough tender emotion for this film – and its thought-provoking story – all on their own. This piece plays during a flashback of another time, a little thought of Edward’s which comes to mind when he realizes he cannot truly hold and show the love he feels for the one person he ever loves.
5. To The Architect - Mychael Danna & Rob Simonsen
The Protagonist of 500 Days Of Summer does a lot of deep thinking over the course of this film. This piece from the score depicts that deep thinking very well. It also takes place during a final conversation between the two main characters. Overall, this piece is all about longing for love and happiness – and I think those feelings are depicted very well in this piece. A feeling of resolution can be sensed from 2:55 onward.
4. Twilight and Shadow – Howard Shore
There are so many beautiful songs in the Lord of the Rings trilogy soundtrack. In fact, there isn’t a single LOTR song I do not like. What’s so wonderful about the soundtrack of LOTR is the fact that there isn’t just a main story going on. There are so many sub-stories taking place within the grand scheme of things. This song highlights one of the main love stories of the trilogy, and once again, a pivotal moment in the life of one of the only feminine characters in the series.
3. The Living Sculptures Of Pemberly – Jean-Yves Thibaudet
From Pride & Prejudice, this song represents a softening of hard and bitter feelings toward someone else. The main character makes a bit of a judgement call on herself, and sees the error of some of her ways. This composer crafted this piece with cunning; you can almost feel her own attitude changing as the piece moves through from beginning to end.
2. Any Other Name – Thomas Newman
American Beauty won an Oscar for best picture, but it should have won an award for its score as well. If anyone has seen this film, they will know why this song has been classified under this post as a pivotal music moment in the film. This film is all about death; this is no spoiler. You are told about the death as soon as the movie begins, and are then given the backstory to fill in the empty spaces. This song, however, begins just as the person dies. . . and may find regret and happiness all at once in that last second of life.
1. Mr. Banks Is Discharged – The Sherman Brothers
This is number one to me. All the tracks I have listed are great, but this is one of my ultimate favorites, and completely suits the purpose of this entire post. If you have seen Mary Poppins before, you know the changes Mr. Banks goes through from beginning to end. In fact, his attitude changes are one of the main points of the entire film! But if you have not seen the film, that’s even better; listen and try to tell the difference of mood between the beginning and end of this piece.
Well, what do you think of this review? Hopefully you have enjoyed it. I enjoy putting these little collections of music together. I find that film scores are largely under-appreciated by people these days, even though they are still very much enjoyed in films. To me, a film without music is like a rose without its petals. If you have any suggestions of film scores I should listen to, feel free to comment. I would love to hear from you.