Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Songs in movies, some thoughts

There are often songs used in movies by particular characters to help convey a message or develop the plot or the characters emotions or desires. Two movies this year have made use of this device: WALL*E and Australia. However, only WALL*E shows how to do it effectively without overusing the music instead of more creative dialogue. Australia uses the song "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz. Nicole Kidman's character sings it to Nullah as a bedtime lullaby, but can't remember all the words. Enough of the lyrics capture Nullah's imagination and he hums the song throughout the movie, and the director Baz Luhrmann uses the lyrics to help tell Nullah's story. However, having Nullah actually attend a showing of The Wizard of Oz starts taking the device a degree too far. Everyone watching the film (as it's not meant for children) already got the symbolism, given that it's one of the most wellknown songs around the world. In WALL*E however, the movie benefits from several choices: using a somewhat less well known songs, "Put on your Sunday Clothes" and "It Only Takes a Moment" from Hello, Dolly!, and having the actual music play - the movie plays, as well as Wall*E's recordings of the songs. The characters don't sing the music often, and in particular because they don't speak, the music does a good job as a complement to their emtions rather than just playing repeatedly without obvious context. Wall*E seeks to have a connection, and literally hold hands with someone (EVE) like they do in the movie Hello, Dolly! during "It Only Takes a Moment". Wall*E makes use of the music in a much better way than Australia does, in my opinion. Just something I've been thinking about. Here's a clip from Wall*E with the song they use.

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