Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sight and Sound

After watching Submarine the other day (finally) and hearing the quite pleasant soundtrack by Alex Turner I started thinking about film soundtracks and how soundtracks can really make a film, sometimes even eclipsing the film they were created for. Think Curtis Mayfield's soundtrack for Superfly - yes, there was a film. 

There are so many soundtracks out there that I love but I'll stay on track and limit myself to individual/original soundtracks so that the list isn't too enormous. Who knows, I might eventually get around to creating a bigger've been warned...

Let's begin with Radiohead guitarist Paul Thompson's orchestral score for Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is as creepy and haunting as to be expected from this chap. Another film, also set in the Southern U.S, but possessing an arguably more iconic score is Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billie the Kid. Bob Dylan wrote a handful of songs for this film including Knocking on Heaven's Door, which is not a personal favourite and this is not really my favourite Dylan phase, but it must be noted how massive this song became. Simon and Garfunkel's soundtrack for The Graduate is another example of a soundtrack that's equally as legendary and recognisable.

There have been some interesting and often pretty experimental collaborations between film makers and musicians. A particularly interesting one is Mick Jagger's work on Kenneth Anger's Invocation of my Demon Brother. 

Sometimes a film's soundtrack is good because it fits so well with the film's ethos that it works to cement the film's style and place in time. Simple Minds' soundtrack to A Breakfast Club couldn't possible have made it more quintessentially 80's, John Entwistles' soundtrack for Quadrophenia is  just epic, and Air's score for Virgin Suicides supports the films parred back and slightly uneasy aesthetic narrative and style. Probably the greatest example of a soundtrack making a film synonymous to it's era is The Beegee's soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. Everybody know this one.

It would be a crime not to mention some of the great film composers some of whom where able to provoke astounding levels of tension and fear such as Bernard Herman who worked with Hitchcock and created the infamous screeching pre-murder sound for Psycho and John Williams' fear inducing soundtrack for Jaws ensured a pretty unrealistic fake shark was able to scare people out of cinemas. Angelo Badamenti's scores for Lynch's films are epic. Most notably his work on Blue Velvet where he took on the role as singing coach to Isabella Rossellini. Please excuse me but I will also again mention Neil Young's soundtrack for Jarmusch's film Deadman because I fear there may be people out there who have yet to hear it!Please watch this film and listen to this soundtrack!

Perhaps my favourite music and film amalgamation is when musicians venture into film. The 80's were a very good time for this. Talking Heads' film Stop Making Sense is perfection and who doesn't love Prince's Purple Rain and *cough* Madonna's badly acted but memorably soundtracked Desparately Seeking Susan. Then there's David Bowie's trippy kids film Labyrinth and his promotional film, Love You Till Tuesday, originally released in 1969 and including Space Oddity.Haven't forgotten The Beatles' Hard Days Night just have nothing to add on the subject as it's pretty much been talked to death. All awesome!

I have probably forgotten a load of soundtracks but these were the first to spring to my hungover Sunday mind. Feel free to tell me off and remind me of what I've missed. Oh, and in case you're wondering what I thought of Submarine, I thought it was ok and a possible grower. Stand out line,"you know what? It's going to matter when i'm 38".

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