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Your Favorite Third Act Musical Surprise


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You're in the final act of the movie. You feel as if the composer has played all their cards. You think you know what all the big new thematic material for the film is, all they have to say has been more or less exhausted. And then out of nowhere they drop something new and unexpected on you, a piece they'd had waiting in the wings but were intentionally holding back until the absolute opportune moment towards the end of the film to unload it on you. I'm referring to what I'm calling the third act musical surprise.
 

Some examples would be Battle of the Heroes not playing until the final fight at the end of the ROTS, Jedi Steps not being heard until the last minute of TFA, Carpenter waiting until the last thirty minutes to introduce some groovy new chase music in the latest Halloween film, etc.

The main criteria is it has to be a piece that doesn't feature until the last third of the film (or even the credits) and was not hinted at prior in the film, thus making it a total surprise when it becomes unveiled to the listener. With that in mind, I ask you: what is your favorite third act musical surprise?

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Setting The Trap

What about radically different treatment of earlier music?  I recall finding this calm version of the Jaws theme so incredibly memorable back in theaters back in the 70's.  It came out of nowhere in t

Easy: The Throne Room, The Jedi Steps and of course Yub Nub.  

7 hours ago, Thor said:

You're basically asking for great Finale music.

 

In a way, yes, but by calling it Finale music I fear we get stuck in thinking of music that specifically closes out the film, whereas I primarily want to focus on music that appears at any point in the last act and nowhere else.

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34 minutes ago, Thor said:

You're basically asking for great Finale music.

 

Is he?

 

@Cerebral Cortex correct me if I'm not putting this quite right, but you're looking for what I often call the "musical breath of fresh air" that composers will sometimes put into the last part of the composition, in the sense of NOT setting-up some major musical moment or theme.

 

So, a little bit like how Wagner would assiduously set-up most of his leitmotives, and then end a music drama by introducing a completely new motif like Wotan's love for his children in Die Walkure?

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Yoda's theme in 'The Clash of the Lightsabers' as they all escape Cloud City.  1:38-1:58

 

 

 

The Dash Across No Man's Land in War Horse.  It's the only action track in the film, but it fires on all cylinders.  Blew me away when I saw it in theaters.  1:56

 

 

 

The Mecha Word - A.I.

 

 

*edit, I guess the first one doesn't really count (although maybe it does because it's the first time we hear Yoda's Theme in an action sense?)

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7 hours ago, Chen G. said:

 

Is he?

 

@Cerebral Cortex correct me if I'm not putting this quite right, but you're looking for what I often call the "musical breath of fresh air" that composers will sometimes put into the last part of the composition, in the sense of NOT setting-up some major musical moment or theme.

 

So, a little bit like how Wagner would assiduously set-up most of his leitmotives, and then end a music drama by introducing a completely new motif like Wotan's love for his children in Die Walkure?

 

Yes, exactly! Thank you. Worded it much better than I myself could.

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wh.jpeg

 

A random one but your description definitely fits here.

 

After 30-40 mins of very pleasant and wistful Gaelic stylings, the score suddenly erupts into some of the best frenetic action music Howard has written - it's quite similarly structured to the finale in King Kong... only with a far more upbeat ending.

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