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leeallen01

Favourite examples of pure thematic storytelling

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What are your favourite moments where a Composer completely nails the feeling and events happening on-screen in their music by altering a theme. For example; a particular theme that is picked apart and re-shaped perfectly to match its meaning in a particular scene.

 

Here is one of my favourites because it's fresh in my head from just seeing Star Trek Beyond in Concert. - 

 

From 4:05, I love how Giacchino is replaying and replaying the Kirk/Enterprise theme, trying to complete it, but it wont complete the theme because the ship is going to its doom. It keeps altering a note here and there and never resolving the melody as it crashes through the atmosphere towards the planet. And as Kirk is watching it crash, then the tragedy hits and Giacchino completes the theme as a grand farewell.

 

 

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Well, I cannot say that my example is pure, necessarily. I feel like most of the scores and moments that come to mind are from movies I know like the back of my hand. I play the story in my head with the music, so it all works out in a super cool cognitive fantasy.

 

Personally as of late, I feel that the second disc of Howard Shore's The Desolation of Smaug does a wonderful job of using the many, many, many themes to depict the story at that part of the movie, noticeable in the film and on the CD! Starting in Laketown (thematically) and moving towards the mountain, where the roots of the dwarf lineage come through in the Durin theme. I always loved the moonlight reveal of the keyhole. The music is so befitting. Then the menace and lurking of Smaug, whose theme picks up as he becomes more enraged at the company who has entered Erebor. The Elven and Orc themes in Laketown are also spread in there, as the movie goes on that course. Then the last few tracks have the most powerful of Smaug, when his anger reaches the brim. No comment on I See Fire. 

 

That is my thought, if it makes sense.

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Indeed, the first definitive statement of The House of Durin happens in Laketown! Its immensely impactful.

 

One of my favorite moments in that part is the reveal of Erebor across the misty lake. We hear a drawn-out statement of the Erebor theme as the characters react one by one to something offscreen, the music telling us what it is. As we cut to it, we hear Thorin’s theme.

 

It’s a touching, wordless (and utterly of cinema) moment, not between characters in a relationship, but between characters and an inanimate object, and is communicated and made meaningful in no small degree by the music.

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To be clear; I was not really talking about overall scores. Just distinct favourite examples within them, like the one I gave of Star Trek Beyond.

 

I should have better described what I meant for the topic. But basically I'm suggesting a distinct moment in a film where the composer uses a theme to perfectly reflect the actions on screen.

 

Here is another example I love, to better illustrate my point - In the video below at 0:25, Sam is talking about the Shire and the whistle comes in with the first few notes of the Shire theme as Shore tries to make the characters remember their home. It doesn't form the theme though, only playing the general shapes of the Shire. But Frodo doesn't remember, and can only talk about death, so Shore fades the whistle away and the Grey Havens 'Into the West' death theme starts to come in. But Sam is defiant, and declares that they will essentially defeat death and finish the quest. So at 1:48 Shore turns his theme for Death into a triumphant version on brass to show the Hobbits temperarily conquering death as Sam picks Frodo up on his back. Pure beautiful thematic storytelling.

 

 

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1 hour ago, leeallen01 said:

Here is another example I love, to better illustrate my point - In the video below at 0:25, Sam is talking about the Shire and the whistle comes in with the first few notes of the Shire theme as Shore tries to make the characters remember their home. It doesn't form the theme though, only playing the general shapes of the Shire. But Frodo doesn't remember, and can only talk about death, so Shore fades the whistle away and the Grey Havens 'Into the West' death theme starts to come in. But Sam is defiant, and declares that they will essentially defeat death and finish the quest. So at 1:48 Shore turns his theme for Death into a triumphant version on brass to show the Hobbits temperarily conquering death as Sam picks Frodo up on his back. Pure beautiful thematic storytelling.

 

That’s my favorite moment in all of cinema.

 

I believe the choral music there (which also appears as Frodo’s dangling over the cracks of Doom) is a masked heroic setting of The Shire theme, which is also thematically very telling. 

 

I’m trying to come up with something from another composer: When William Wallace gives his speech at Stirling, one of the reasons it’s so incredibly uplifting is that Horner brings back - for the only time - the music from the death of William’s father and brother - it’s telling us that he is acting on their memory, not just Murron’s.

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Another Giacchino example, I love how he moves between Frank's Theme, Athena's Theme, and the Tomorrowland Theme towards the end as they teleport to the Eiffel Tower.

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Giacchino does a lot of these examples with his themes. He likes to play with them note by note. Like in Rogue One when he endlessly uses Dies Irae in 'The Master Switch' to show how close to death the characters are becoming. And the time he actually fully blasts the Dies Irae is when the film shows Krennic marching to the vault to try to kill Jyn and Cassian. Great thematic timing and musical whereabouts.

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