I wrote a piece recently about how the soundtrack makes me want to see the film again. Specifically, I’m talking about my record collection. I’m going all in on collecting up movie scores. There are obviously some great soundtrack albums where it’s about the songs – I wrote about the impact of Tour of Duty recently too – those compilations of sixties songs set the mood for that TV show. And I was such a fan of the movie The Big Chill not least because of its two soundtrack volumes. (Same with Good Morning Vietnam).
But I guess I’m particularly digging into instrumental scores; music written (or chosen) specifically for the film rather than collections of songs. I’ve recently jettisoned a few of my old movie soundtracks – 80s staples like Cocktail, Dirty Dancing and Top Gun, lots of fun but done to death. And I’m replacing them with things like the score for Nicholas Roeg’s psychological horror Don’t Look Now. The movie is quite something. So that’s one reason I want the score. And Pino Donaggio is one of my all-time favourite soundtrack composers. So that’s the other reason.
I’m finding new ways in with movie soundtracks. I use the music to soundtrack my reading, my writing, my start or end to a working day. It variously transports me or helps to narrow in my focus.
But it’s also bringing back such strong memories of certain films. And in many cases, my soundtrack consumption is driving me right back to the movies, creating a ‘need’ to see them.
This week just past I ‘found’ my scores for Close Encounters of The Third Kind and West Side Story, both had been mis-filed with some old classical records. It was such a joy to rediscover them and to hear them again. In both cases I thought of the films straight away and made a note to rewatch them.
The two brand new record purchases I made over the weekend were the scores for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and David Cronenberg’s The Fly. In both cases the soundtracks are already burned into my brain – but it was so great to finally find and buy vinyl copies. The Tarantino film is my least favourite but it’s one my favourite Tarantino soundtracks. The man makes great soundtracks and Basterds has a score largely ‘composed’ from pieces of pre-existing film score. He takes vintage movie cues and recasts them.
The Howard Shore composed and conducted score for The Fly has long been one of my favourites – and the film is somewhat burned into my mind. A creepy, wonderful sci-fi horror that I watched when I was pretty young. One of my first horrors. I haven’t seen it for years but keep meaning to re-watch it…
By pure coincidence (or is it? Is it ever pure, or even coincidence?) my weekend movie watched featured a rewatch of the original Candyman horror film (I’m yet to catch up with the remake). I’ve also been wanting to rewatch Candyman for a while – another film that burned into my brain once upon a long ago.
I couldn’t remember a whole heap about the film actually – beyond its central premise. The actual scenes were lost to me. But as soon as it started I was pulled in by Philip Glass’ score. His first (and only) for a horror film, it’s been on my listening rotate big time of late. So the music became the guide.
And then I watched George Romero’s Day of the Dead – another I’d been meaning to check out again for quite some time (on a bit of a horror binge). I’ve recently ordered John Harrison’s mesmerising score for Dead and have already been listening to it a lot this year. One of my top spins on YouTube and Spotify no doubt. There, in the opening scenes of the film I finally – properly – connect the sample (dialogue and music) to that great Gorillaz song of their first album, M1 A1. Hellllooooo…..
And, yes, I’m ready – finally – to reassess my ranking of Inglorious Basterds. That score is just so good. One listen to it on Saturday morning and I decided I have to give that film another go. The music reminded me straight away of the scenes in it I do love, of the scope and feel of it. It gave me reason to reconnect.