Thursday, December 18, 2008

No Need to Say Goodbye

Music in films is a kind of magical synthesis of sound, rhythm, and feeling that amplifies visual meaning. Frequently the music of a motion picture becomes so identified with the story line that it is virtually impossible to think of one without sensing the other. Visual craftsmen, like Steven Spielberg, have sought for their musical counterparts, composers as talented as themselves in portraying the story in another medium. It is interesting to note that Spielberg has only released two films without a John Williams score. It should surprise no one that Williams composed all of the music for the first three "Harry Potter" movies, the "Indiana Jones" franchise, and the Christopher Reeves "Superman" movies.

It is hard to imagine a Tim Burton film without a score written by Danny Elfman: "Beetlejuice", "Batman", "Batman Returns", "Edward Scissorhands", "Mars Attacks", "Sleepy Hollow", "Planet of the Apes", "Corpse Bride" and others, including "Alice in Wonderland" to be released in 201o. Elfman's prodigious talents appear in other films as well, including "Mission Impossible", "Men in Black", "Good Will Hunting", "Spiderman", "Nacho Libre", "Charlotte's Web", "Kingdom", "Wanted", and, of course, the theme from the "Simpsons".

Jimmy Webb may not be as well known as Williams and Elfman, but his composing skills have made an indelible mark on the minds and hearts of those who remember the haunting melodies of "The Last Unicorn", the animated version of Peter S. Beagle's masterpiece. The title song, "Man's Road", "In the Sea", and "That's All I've Got to Say" convey the central wonder of the book and the film. They have become inexorably connected.

In the shadow of the forest
Though she may be old and worn
They will stare unbelieving
At the Last Unicorn

Mike Batt's "Bright Eyes", for the movie "Watership Down", particularly Art Garfunkel's rendition of it, is unforgettable.

Is it a kind of a dream
Floating out on the tide
Following the river of death downstream
Or is it a dream?

Does anyone remember the composer for the three "Lord of the Rings" movies? Howard Shore. But no one can forget "In Dreams". What a wonder it was to hear "Aniron" and "It May Be" for the first time, stunned at the performance. I stood in the theater throughout the entire rolling of the credits just to see if Enya really had been singing Shore's pieces. Howard Shore also scored the movies "Silence of the Lambs", "Mrs. Doubtfire", "Se7en", "The Last Mimzey", and "The Aviator", among others.

I had another "rolling of the credits" moment the other night as I watched for the first time the latest remake of "Prince Caspian". Regina Spektor's "The Call" snared me completely. I am not certain that I really like everything that Regina has done in her music, but "The Call" has become integral to my appreciation of C.S Lewis' masterpieces in the "Chronicles of Narnia". I listened to it over and over again, and then went on the internet to find out more about Ms. Spektor. What a powerful thing it is to have the senses blended together forever in a period of four minutes or less!

It started out as a feeling, which then grew into a hope.
which then turned to a quiet thought
which then turned into a quiet word.
And then that word grew louder and louder, till it was a Battle Cry
I'll come back, when you call me. No need to say goodbye.

Just because everything's changing
doesn’t mean its never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
as you head off to the war.
Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light
You'll come back, when its over
No need to say goodbye
you'll come back, when its over
no need to say goodbye

Now we're back to the beginning
It's just a feeling and no one knows yet
but just because they can’t feel it too doesn’t mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger,
till they're before your eyes.
You'll come back when they call you
no need to say goodbye
You'll come back when they call you
no need to say goodbye.

I think that is what music does to us... the memory of that wonderful synthesis between sight and sound... no need to say goodbye.


Jen said...

I was listening to The Call while I was reading your blog this morning and Ethan came up and said, "Hey! I know this song!! It's from Prince Caspian!" Wow. If someone had played it for me without telling me where this song was from, I wouldn't have been able to say what it was. Ethan's got some mad skills!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE THIS SONG! Ah..I could listen to it all day... Another favorite of mine is "Rule the World" by Take That. It is the credits song for "Stardust." I LOVE IT! But, you can't buy it in the U.S. anymore for some dumb reason, and Amazon UK won't sell it to me...sigh...

Zaphod said...

Take That: #3 on my hit parade

Bliss said...

It was a decent movie too.