The Changing Face Of Film Scores In 2012: Mixing Genres In Unusual Ways

SoundStage Direct

Movie soundtracks are evolving to the point where different pieces of music aren’t merely bound to specific genres. One can hear anything in recent releases. On one hand, this has made soundtracks quite adventurous. On the other hand, some people feel that movie music doesn’t make much sense any more. Rock and rap songs that sneak into period pieces are sometimes as funny as they are dramatic. Fortunately, though, it seems that the practice of merely slotting songs to sell on soundtrack CDs is dieing.

Hans Zimmer Explores the Dark Side

Hans Zimmer certainly branched out when he worked on the soundtrack for “The Dark Knight Rises.” Unlike many pieces he’d worked on before, his themes in this film seem to lack subtly. Powerful crescendos that indicate when the hero is on screen took moviegoers back to an earlier era where the lines of good and evil were never blurred. A few of the downbeat sequences even have the sort of minor tones one would expect of the down-and-out scenes in a traditional superhero film.

These observations would usually be uninteresting, but Zimmer seldom actually takes this route when composing movie music. Recent Batman films have also tried to distance themselves from regular superhero fare. This means that by taking a traditional road, Zimmer actually set his music apart from other scores.

Lucas and the Latin Touch

Lucas Vidal composed the soundtrack for The Raven, and there are a few moments in the film where it becomes obvious that Vidal was born in Spain. In other parts, though, the music ironically resembles Hans Zimmer’s work on Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Since The Raven is more like a procedural cop drama than a work of gothic horror, this actually works quite effectively. While some individuals say that the movie was lacking on plot, the music certainly kept the pace of the film moving.

Nevertheless, there were some adventurous touches that Vidal decided to experiment with. For instance, despite the movie being at least nominally a period piece, flourishes of electric guitar are sometimes heard. This can sometimes sound slightly out of place, but it’s still effective.

Django’s own Little Experiment

Speaking of anachronisms, Django Unchained didn’t even attempt to stick to a formula that was accurate to the time period in question. While Django’s soundtrack includes several predictable cuts from individuals like Jerry Goldsmith, it also flirts with a Jim Croce song. Few people would have really expected James Brown and Tupac to be included with more predictable western fare. Then again, anything seems to go in Quentin Tarantino’s world.

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Eric Blair writes about classic and contemporary film and music. When he’s not blogging Eric collects and listens to vinyl records and equipment like his VPI Tonearms.