One of my favorite aspects of film, if not my absolute favorite, is the music. I love starting this conversation with my friends. We start talking about film music, and halfway into the conversation, we both realize we’re not talking about the same thing. They’re thinking soundtrack; I’m specifically thinking film score.
Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to much music. Actually, there were very strict guidelines for what I was and wasn’t allowed to listen to; surprisingly, however, film scores always wiggled their way into my CD player. All the way through high school and mid-college, my likes for film didn’t evolve or grow much past well-known John Williams or Hans Zimmer (two AMAZING composers, though!) albums, but since then I’ve tried to stretch and really appreciate all that is out there. So many talented composers are alive and well and composing for films that are great and films that aren’t, but they’re definitely out there!
Most film score soundtracks I purchase are from films that I’ve watched and was moved by. Marketers know this when hiring certain composers for a type of film. Music bleeds emotion, and when film-goers can exit a theater feeling and experiencing a certain emotion, a composer has accomplished part of his job – leave a lasting memory in the heart of the listener. And while the audience might give all credit to the film itself, the score plays a large role in influencing the film’s audience.
While I’ve also added numerous film soundtracks to my music library, I’m just going to focus on film scores for this post. In no intended order, here is a list of some my favorite film scores:
- Eagle Eye – Brian Tyler
- The Holiday – Hans Zimmer
- 27 Dresses – Randy Edelman
- The Wedding Date – Blake Neely (Fun fact [FF]): A physical copy of this record is rare. Only 1,000 copies were ever produced.)
- TRON: Legacy – Daft Punk
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – Hans Zimmer (Most people assume all three soundtracks were composed by Hans Zimmer. Klaus Badelt composed The Black Pearl. Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt worked together for Dead Man’s Chest.)
- Elizabethtown – Nancy Wilson (FF: Wilson is married to the Writer-Director of the film, Cameron Crowe. That’s convenient.)
- Dan in Real Life – Sondre Lerche (FF: This film score includes a lot of vocals, which is atypical for a score. Lerche also appears in the film, performing for the wedding reception, at the movie’s end. The director mentioned that even if the film flopped, one of his primary goals was to get Sondre Lerche’s music out there!)
- Star Trek – Michael Giacchino
- Inception – Hans Zimmer
- The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – Howard Shore
I know Hans Zimmer makes my list three times, but this group holds many of my absolute favorites. For me, the music that moves me often comes from the emotional attachment I have with a film. While Star Trek didn’t exactly have me leaving in tears (sarcastic remark: check!), Dan in Real Life, Elizabethtown, and The Wedding Date are three of my favorite films that I’ve not only watched several times each, but I have also connected emotionally with.
My appreciation for film music comes from the thought of walking into a theater and watching a movie with no score. For all those moments that don’t include a soundtrack playing (and there are MANY of them), a film score quietly and discreetly or very poignantly accompanies what we’re viewing. A film wouldn’t be able to move as quickly as it does or make a certain impact without that music.
So next time you walk into a theater, pay close attention when someone isn’t singing or when someone isn’t talking during the movie. Yeah – that’s the sound of the score moving the film, and then the film moving you.