Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Fantastic in the Fine Arts: Movie/TV Soundtracks

It's finals week for me, so I'm in desperate need of entertainment that doesn't require huge amounts of critical thinking.  That is why, when thinking about what to feature in this week's "Fantastic in the Fine Arts" column, my mind kept resisting classical works of art and music, and instead, kept pushing me toward movies and TV shows.

And so today, we're featuring two clips in which the music is so evocative, so passionate that it is (for me, at least) impossible to resist.  Intellectually, I recognize that the music is there to make me feel a certain way, but it's so wonderful that I find myself being completely drawn into the scene anyways.

The first example of this comes from the fourth series of the new Doctor Who--the final episode in the regular series, entitled "Journey's End."  [mild spoilers after the jump]

The Doctor has just saved humanity once again, and in this clip, he and everyone he knows are flying the TARDIS together to put the Earth back in its proper place in the universe.  (It's a long story how it got moved in the first place.)  The plot details aren't really important here, though--what is important is how the music that accompanies this scene (starting about 28 seconds into the clip) makes you share in the joy that the Doctor and his friends are feeling:

Another of my favorite examples of this, where the music just completely draws me into the scene, comes in the third movie of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King.  Pippin climbs up to the signal beacon to call for Rohan's aid, and the music does a marvelous job of conveying the new breath of hope that this action inspires.  In this clip in particular, the soundtrack matches perfectly with the sweeping camera views of the mountains, with music and image working together to suggest inspiration and hope.

So, in the spirit of fun and the end of the semester, what are your favorite examples of movie or TV music?  Let us know in the comments!


  1. I completely agree! Music is one of the most important things in a film or TV show. The Lord of the Rings being a prime example. The scene you highlighted was great but there are sooooooo many others. I loved the song entitled "Return of the King" from the third movie. It starts when Frodo is in bed after being rescued by the eagles and ends after Aragorn says to the Hobbits "you bow to no one". It made me cry so hard.

  2. "Intellectually, I recognize that the music is there to make me feel a certain way, but it's so wonderful that I find myself being completely drawn into the scene anyways." "But?" Are there examples when you get irritated because of other things trying to make you feel certain ways?

    Other than the obvious (Star Wars!) I'm not really sure. I do remember playing the Lord of the Rings music for a band pops concert without having seen the movies, so I was going "I enjoy some of this, but I don't know what it's supposed to represent."

    I used to own the soundtrack to Myst (the main theme is beautiful, and I also really love the part where you can stand up in the telescope room), but unfortunately I misplaced that. :-(

  3. That's a good question. I think what makes me irritated is when movies use music as a shorthand to make me feel a certain way without having the plot to back it up. Certain romantic comedies, for example, where they try to get the viewer to to feel emotionally invested in a relationship without actually portraying a relationship in a believable way. Neither of the examples I posted does this, though.

  4. I would like to vote for the entirety of The Princess Bride soundtrack. I think it's gorgeous on its own, but also fits so well with the action it accompanies in the movie - even the beats of the swords in the duel between Inigo and the Man in Black.

  5. Going off of the Start Wars comment I love any move scored by John Williams. Indiana Jones, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman (original), Hook, Jaws, 3 Harry Potter movies, Schindler's List, Memoirs of a Geisha.

  6. Battle Star Galactica!!!! Especially the bit called "The shape of things to come" which gets played whenever we see the opera house.