Topic: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

Feeding the audience their emotions is something that always bugs me about film scores. John Williams is immensely talented, but he is totally guilty of this.

- Popcorn Culture // The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Doc, could you elaborate on what you do and don't think is okay for scores to calculate on your behalf? Is there any overtly emotional music in a film that you do like?

And the rest of us, is there anything you particularly like or dislike in film scores?

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

Well, what comes to mind immediately is Revenge of the Sith, during the big lightsaber battle at the end. Rather than the director's choices giving the audience emotions, the music swells and booms and tells you, "You should be on the edge of your seat right now! This is really, really dramatic!" Obviously, this is okay when the music augments the director's choices. Take Back to the Future, for example. I would have cared about the outcome of the climax with or without the music. The music in that scene works so well because it compliments how I already feel.

Here's an example from a film I watched recently: Branagh's Hamlet.

With the music, this soliloquy looks like Hamlet is saying, "Fuck yeah! I'm going to fight and I am sure as hell going to win!" But the music is feeding us the wrong emotions about the scene. If you read what Hamlet is saying, it is not what the music implies. He's actually saying, "Man, I'm kinda pathetic compared to Fortinbras and his army. I should probably get to work on my revenge." That's the other half of the problem with music "feeding" the audience their emotions. It may not just be a cheat. It can also be totally wrong.

By the way, I do like the music in Hamlet on its own. But it is totally inappropriate in the film's context. My point about the Dragon Tattoo score was that it wasn't that. It was good music that augmented the director's choices and didn't force the audience to feel emotions. I think I was maybe a little too hard on John Williams, because I was thinking of War Horse when I wrote that review, and looking back, Spielberg was probably more to blame for the audience manipulation in that film than him.

"The Doctor is Submarining through our brains." --Teague

Twitter | Tumblr, for links to all my writing.

Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

So basically, it boils down to whether or not you think the movie A. earns it, because it B. deserved it.

Not that you hate crying in the much-lauded montage in Up because oh my fucking god "Married Life" is so fucking sad in that scene. Right?

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

Oh hell yeah. That scene's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The storytelling would make you sad anyway. The music just enhances the sadness. Now, if Up was a terrible movie, you could put that scene on mute and it would have no impact. But it does, even without the music.

"The Doctor is Submarining through our brains." --Teague

Twitter | Tumblr, for links to all my writing.

Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

We cool.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

Somebody needs to CGI some American flags behind Branaugh in that Hamlet scene. And then end it with the titles HAMLET 2012. FOR A STRONG AMERICA.

And FIX THE GODDAMN ASPECT RATIO!

Warning: I'm probably rewriting this post as you read it.

Zarban's House of Commentaries

Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

For contrast! I think this works really well.

We happy few.

Last edited by paulou (2012-01-19 05:53:21)

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Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

Bump for fun.

(This thread didn't really go anywhere the first time, but maybe there's more conversation to be had.)

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

Doctor Submarine wrote:

Well, what comes to mind immediately is Revenge of the Sith, during the big lightsaber battle at the end. Rather than the director's choices giving the audience emotions, the music swells and booms and tells you, "You should be on the edge of your seat right now! This is really, really dramatic!"

To be fair, I'm not sure what else Williams was supposed to do in that context. He had to realize at this point in making the trilogy that his music was the only thing that was breathing life into the film. Is the music guilty of being manipulative because it's striving to cause emotion in the audience that has nothing to do with what's already on the screen? Well, sure, but I'd rather the composer try to save the moment as best he can than decide "Fuck it," under-score what's already a dramatically inert scene, and leave the movie just completely lifeless.

Williams' music is one of the few unadulteratedly positive things to come out of the PT. I'll take good things from those movies where I can find them.

Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

Seconded.

EDIT: Was just doing the 'Williams has to make modular suite-music now' shpiel for a co-worker ten minutes ago, oddly enough.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

I've said for a while now that listening to the PT's score makes me picture what the PT should have been. Some pieces don't resonate much because they shouldn't have a reason to exist (e.g. Jar-Jar's theme), but others are so deeply meaningful they make me want to cry for a drama that never really existed (Anakin's theme, and its incredibly subtle shift to the Imperial March, is still one of the best pieces of soundtrack music that have ever existed to me).

In that way... Damn, did Williams do everything right.

Sébastien Fraud
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"We're gonna build a great green screen, and make the traditional matte painters pay for it"
Saniss for President 2016 - "Make VFX great again"

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Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

Fun fact: I feel like I have The Phantom Menace tattooed on my brain, and I couldn't come up with anything to associate 'Jar-Jar's theme' with. Just pulled it up, and... yeah. Underscore mostly.

EDIT: Although the Otoh Gunga reveal moment [choir] is pretty fucking solid, not gonna lie.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Doctor Submarine doesn't like film music telling you how to feel.

"Jar-Jar Binks: so bad even John fucking Williams couldn't come up with a cue for him."

This is an achievement, to be honest.

Sébastien Fraud
Facebook | Twitter | 500px
"We're gonna build a great green screen, and make the traditional matte painters pay for it"
Saniss for President 2016 - "Make VFX great again"

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