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My Favourite Movie Music

Friday 5 July 2013, 16:19

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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I'm currently doing a tour with the CBSO playing some of my favourite film music - some of my choices like Silent Running and Planet Of The Apes might seem a little left field. What are your favourite unconventional movie scores?

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    Comment number 1.

    Not Heard anyone other than me mention how great the music for In Bruges by Carter Burwell, completely reflects the atmosphere of the film, Twisted yet Beautiful. On the Subject of Carter Burwell, Fargo and just for fun the yodeling in Raising Arizona.

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    Comment number 2.

    I think some of the music written for Donnie Darko was really great, and very much captured the slightly odd look of the film.

    I also really like the fusion of the orchestral and electronic elements in Man on Fire, especially during the scene at the rave.

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    Comment number 3.

    For me, it would have to be James Newton Howard's and Han Zimmer's scores for The Dark Knight Trilogy. The music completely reflects, not just the atmosphere of the trilogy, but the characters as well. From the spine-chilling and cracked symphony of The Joker to the epic "Deshi Basara" chant for Bane. Nothing felt as powerful and as gripping as this music.

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    Comment number 4.

    Elmer Bernstein's score of Ghostbusters is a wonderful accompaniment to the picture as well as being entertaining enough to listen to on it's own. Bernstein's career was steeped in dramas until the Lampoon pack approached him to score their comedies. He often said it was the work he was most proud of.

    The RZA's score for Ghostdog is terrific, not just because it's vintage Wu-Tang and fits the movie perfectly but the story behind how Jarmusch got the master is great. He had to meet RZA in the middle of the night in a car park somewhere. RZA leaped out the back of a van and pressed the DAT tapes into Jarmusch's hand. There was no mention of where and when each piece was supposed to be used in the film and few words were exchanged between the two artists but it's still a great original score AND instrumental hiphop record to listen to.

    Last one, Quincey Jone's score for The Pawnbroker. A terrific and atmospheric partner to a pretty terrific and atmospheric movie, the soundtrack is Q's jazz arrangements at their finest. A great record just to put on and get lost in as well as shoving you into the 1960s New York underworld of the film with aplomb.

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    Comment number 5.

    Well, where do we begin? Assembling your favorite film score is, of course, picking your favorite films. As a film music affcionado, this really is tough. To assemble the most groundbreaking - and here we are as a starting point:

    "The Adventures of Robin Hood" by Korngold - complete pure escapism, to inspire generations to come, which would segue into the epic construct of Jarre's 'Lawrence of Arabia'

    Then we have the Herrmann of 'Citizen Kane' to 'North by Northwest (the most important, along with Psycho) as pure experimental.

    Glad you mentioned 'Planet of the Apes,' Mark, because it is a high water mark in the evolution of film music: that rams horn does it for me. It was a time when film music was daring, and Stanley Kubrick could toss out a very doable score and replace it with source music.

    But anyway, the groundbreaking scores are thus: the above. Also: John Williams' Superman The Movie( just leave 'Star War' out of it - We know); John Barry's 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service;' Peter Gabriel's 'The Last temptation Of Christ; Lalo Schifrin's 'Bullitt;' Han's Zimmer's 'Black Rain' (revolutionised the synthetic score of the 80's), along with the seminal excellence of Vangelis' Blade Runner'. We can go on - but film music is currently in a state of flux, and is trying to find a beacon, away from the common Zimmer crop.

    As for Jonny Greenwood (Penderecki influences aside) he is without doubt, handing us a different view, and more traditional look at film music; 'There Will Be Blood was phenomenal, along with it's cousin 'The Master.'

    A great post, Mark!

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    Comment number 6.

    Moby's 'God Moving Over the Face of the Waters', played over the end credits of 'Heat', is possibly my favourite piece of music of all time.

    I concur with Ryan Pollard about the scores for The Dark Knight Trilogy, and would pick 'Like a Dog Chasing Cars' from 'The Dark Knight' for such a concert as this.

    'Song For Bob' from 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford', by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, is an achingly beautiful piece from an achingly beautiful film.

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    Comment number 7.

    I love the soundtrack to The Fountain. But for something unusual the it would have to be the music for Skeletons by Simon Whitfield.
    I'd also agree with Maldoror84 The Ghostdog soundtrack is another great recommendation.

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    Comment number 8.

    1. 'Driving with the Top Down' by Ramin Djawadi from 'Iron Man'- Love that song, it just makes me, everytime I listen to it, feel completely jolted with inspiration and want to drive down a motorway topless screaming my head off!

    2. 'In Motion' by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from 'The Social Network'- Frankly I find 'The Social Network' overrated, but this superb techno-electronic piece of musical orgasm is a rare case where the soundtrack is better than the movie. It just makes e feel so smart and a genius by really venturing into Zuckerberg's brilliantly logical mind.

    3. 'BMBBO' by Trevor Rabin from 'Bad Company'- the film is undoubtedly one of the dumbest, most head-bangingly boring action flicks of the last decade, but this song is it's redeeming quality that features a beautiful, ethereal and orchestral beat that does a sublime job of recreating the idea that Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock are buddies there for each other all the time. You can almost imagine it being a phone call with Sir Anthony talking on the phone to the villain saying he's going to come for him. The electronic part in the middle ruins the song's beauty, but this video features a pure orchestreal remix that makes it sound perfect:

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    Comment number 9.

    For me it has to be Ry Cooder's main theme for Paris, Texas. What it does is it gives the film a staggering and unrivaled intimacy and immediacy. Combine that with Sam Sheppard’s story, the superb performances and incredible cinematography makes for perhaps on the most authentically moving cinema experiences.

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    Comment number 10.

    For my three there's got to be some Ennio Morricone, Ecstacy of Gold is a favourite and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly as a whole is a work of genius.

    Yann Tiersen's score for Amélie, is just right for the film. J'y Suis Jamais Allé sets the scene for the whole film. The music starts and you know just where you are and what you're about to get.

    I'll finish off with the masterpiece that is Susumu Hirasawa's work on Paprika. Not to everyone's taste I'm sure but Mediational Field and The Girl In Byakkoya - White Tiger Field are haunting and exactly what the film needed.

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    Comment number 11.

    Just one suggestion, Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell. Used in Requiem for a Dream, Sunshine and LOTR The Two Towers. It is quite corny and is pretty much the ultimate trailer music but my God is it stirring.

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    Comment number 12.

    My four picks (sorry, it has to be four, not three):

    1) The Iron Giant by Michael Kamen - an absolutely beautiful score for a criminally underrated film.
    2) Where Eagles Dare by Ron Goodwin - a pulse-pounding, thrilling, heroic piece, with perhaps just a touch of send up.
    3) The Big Silence by Ennio Morricone - a great score to a little seen but wonderful Sergio Corbucci western.
    4) Walkabout by John Barry - absolutely heartwrenchingly beautiful.

    Can I suggest another discussion for the good doctor? There are some magnificent scores for completely undeserving films - Jerry Goldsmith's Supergirl and John Williams' Hook being two great examples off the top of my head.

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    Comment number 13.

    PaulL beat me to it, but Ennio Morricone's L'Estasi del Oro from The Good The Bad And The Ugly is just incredible. It plays over Tuco running around the cemetary searching for the right headstone, and then builds over the climatic showdown. Goosebumps even remembering it. I was lucky enough to see it performed live with the man himself conducting and the volume and escalation of that track is something to behold.

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    Comment number 14.

    Clint Mansell's score for Moon seems overlooked. The theme, Welcome To Lunar Industries, is subtle, clean, yet eerily haunting: perfectly reflecting the mood of the film.

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    Comment number 15.

    I just think I'd would very much like to mention Morricone's score for Once Upon a Time in America, the greatest score. Yes yes, it's canonical but oh well, it had to be mentioned.
    Morricone's score for Novecento is also really great,

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    Comment number 16.

    I recently had the absolute pleasure of watching Manhunter and the score was one of the many outstanding elements in the film. I've heard that many people find the soundtrack dated, but for me the synth music is essential to the feel of the movie. The scene where Graham visits Lecktor is made even creepier by the music overlaid on the scene, which serves to enhance Brian Cox's already fantastic performance.

    I am also a huge fan of Brad Fiedel's music for The Terminator, another synth score. The opening title theme sets the stage with its heavy industrial sound, and the music during the nightclub and police station set pieces is great at ramping up the tension. All in all a fantastic soundtrack.

    My final choice is probably more conventional. Almost all the scores Ennio Morricone composed are brilliant, but for me the soundtrack to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly really stands out. The opening theme is sublime, but another two pieces for me also deserve special attention. 'The Story of a Soldier' played during Tuco's torture is heart-breaking, while 'The Ecstasy of Gold' just completes Tuco's frantic search for the right grave.

    These three scores are integral to their respective films, and for me that is what makes them so perfect.

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    Comment number 17.

    I do very much like the music in Cloud Atlas. But if I'm choosing three - and if we exclude actual musical soundtracks - how about:

    The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover
    Back to the Future (1, 2 or 3)

    I can't tell how good BttF's music actually is, because I have so many memories attached to it and the film. I still find it tremendously exciting though, so there - plus if a younger me ever gets his hands on a time machine and arrives to find I didn't mention it, I might get beaten up.

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    Comment number 18.

    Some of the scores I rate Highly:

    Medicine Man - Jerry Goldsmith. Beautiful.

    Blue Thunder - Arthur Rubinstein - ace

    Tron Legacy - Daft Punk . Very Epic sound. Fitted the movie perfectly and stands up as an electronic album too.

    The Taking Of Pelham 123 - David Shire..NOT just the main title, the entire thing is a time machine back to the 1970's. amazing.

    Jacobs Ladder - Maurice Jarre. Very unnerving and peaceful all at one.

    Star Trek 2 - The Wrath Of Kahn. James Horner. space has never seemed so epic KAHHHHHHNNNNN!

    E.T John Williams. makes me weep. lovely

    Raiders Of The Lost Ark John Williams- tears of joy.

    The Crow - Graeme Revell - Dark, flames..brooding..dripping with atmos..

    I could go on for HOURS at this rate,,.

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    Comment number 19.

    ah,.unconventional.. remove medicine man, kahn, e,t and raiders then

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    Comment number 20.

    The score from The Last of the Mohicans does it every time for me - an epic score for an epic film.


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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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