Movies would not be the same without music

Music is beautiful. Music can make you happy, or it can make you sad. Music can make you cry, or it can make you sing along in a frabjous manner. Music is all-in-all powerful, and I think it is especially powerful in movies.

To me, music makes a movie. If a movie does not have good music, I cannot think it is a good movie. Imagine watching a sad scene in a movie, one with no dialogue at all. Would a scene like that actually sadden you if it was just silent? No, it would not. That slow piano in the background tells you that you should be sad. Without the music, the scene would just be hollow, for it would be missing that essential part that evokes emotion out of the audience.

 Here is an example: At the end of Monster’s Inc., Sully is forced to say goodbye to Boo. This is a sad moment for the audience because they watched these characters form an unbreakable bond, but what really makes this sad is when Sully starts to walk back to the closet door after tucking Boo in, and a slow-paced piano is introduced into the scene. That slow-paced, sad piano really set the emotion of that scene, as you can relate to how hard goodbyes can be watching these two characters having to do it.

Music in movies is also powerful in the sense that if a song is well placed in a score, you will always be reminded about a scene in a movie in which that song was playing. Whenever I hear “Hearts on Fire” by John Cafferty, I think of when Rocky is training in a frigid barn in Russia getting ready for his final showdown with Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV.” Whenever I hear Simple Mind’s “Don’t You Forget about Me,” I think of Bender thrusting his fist in the air at the end of “The Breakfast Club.” And when I hear “Man in Motion” by John Parr, I will always be reminded of the six characters from “St. Elmo’s Fire” struggling with life after college.

Some of the most recognizable movies in history would have never been so acclaimed without their scores. Movies that fall under this category are “Star Wars,” “Rocky,” “Jaws,” and others. Heck, even though “Jaws” is coming up on its 40th anniversary, the daunting theme music of the franchise still instills fear and anxiousness in movie goers. Some of my favorite movie scores are from “The Lion King,” “Jurassic Park/World,” and “Warrior.” The score in all these movies always fills me with joy and appreciation.

“The Lion King” would not have the following it does today without the combined musical genius of Hans Zimmer & Elton John. John’s “Circle of Life” is perhaps one of the most recognized opening scores to a movie, and perhaps one of the most fun to sing along with, even though you have no idea what is actually being said. And Zimmer’s “This Land” is one of the most beautiful, best orchestrated and composed pieces of work I have ever heard. Listening to “This Land” still gives me chills.

John Williams’ score in “Jurassic Park” is also brilliant. The music in “Jurassic Park” is filled with curiosity and wonder, and gives the feeling of an adventurous, unpredictable journey up ahead. And even though John Williams did not score Jurassic World (which was instead scored by Michael Giacchino), the new edition to the Jurassic Park series did the old movies justice by using the original theme, giving the crowd a sense of nostalgia.

And finally, perhaps one of my favorite scored moments in movie history comes from Warrior, where two brothers played by Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton are forced to meet each other inside of a cage in the finale of an MMA tournament, both fighting for their respective  families. During the final round of their match, The National’s “About Today” starts playing. This song captures the complicated, distant relationship of the two brothers so well, that multiple people I know, myself included, cannot help but shed a tear as they watch these two brothers rip each other apart.

For me, music not only makes life better, but movies as well. Without music in movies, I do not believe that any real emotional connection could ever be made with the characters that we are watching.

Jordan Bierbrauer is a psychology major  at SDSU and can be contacted at [email protected]