Memoirs Of a Movie Soundtrack

I have a confession to make…

Sometimes when I hear that song from Titanic I cry…

Often times when I hear that song from the Disney Pixar’s movie Up I cry…

You know that movie Beaches?  The one where Bette Midler sings “Wind Beneath My Wings”… Yeah, you could probably guess the rest…it makes me cry

“That Titanic song” is actually called “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. That “Up song” is called “Married Life” and they are both testaments to the fact that songs can evoke particular emotions within people when needed (or maybe that I am way too emotional). Soundtracks play an integral role in the movie watching process. The amalgam and almost formulaic combination of ‘song and movie’ is like a friendship where two individuals bear strong influences over one another, changing the overall big picture of their lives forever. (That big picture is a broad metaphor for movies of course) Songs serve as emotional triggers that are able to elicit responses that successfully translate into emotions that the movie creator wants the movie watcher to feel.  It certainly helps (and this is arguable) that movies and music not be listened to with ear buds, because it isolates the viewer opposed to uniting them with other fellow movie watchers. Take the movie Jaws for example. The theme song makes people cringe and movie watchers unite in their anticipated fear for what the next scene will feature. While Disney’s Frozen has children (and maybe adults too) singing “Let it Go” worldwide. The musical stratosphere is far reaching and the music itself is changed to match the particular content of the movies that they are featured in.

So why am I discussing soundtracks? Because recently, I was watching the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, directed by Rob Marshall and I noticed the magnificent quality of its soundtrack. I then asked myself (Especially after having taken the American Topics: Music Beyond Ear buds) what constitutes a “good” soundtrack from a “bad” one. Is it the songs themselves? Is it the way that they are used? Particularly with this movie, I noticed how the songs were culturally infused. The historical and cultural setting of this movie was Japan before and after World War II. Musically, the soundtrack featured a wide array of instruments that could crescendo the viewer into an abyss of blissful movie watching. And then I recognized one of the songs. It was called The Chairmen’s Waltz. I had recognized it from a dance show called “So You Think You Can Dance” that I had seen as a little girl. I remembered that the replay option had just become available on our cable unit and I replayed it over and over and over again. I was mesmerized by the sharp violin and the fluidity of the movements. The art, dance, music, and overall vibe of the movie were embodied by the people and the performance that all played out in front of me.



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