Movie music in the heart

Shawshank Redemption, King Kong and ETI like to make people cry. Just to reassure you, that doesn’t involve kicking their kneecaps or anything. Just manipulating their emotions.

For me, touching the reader’s heart is the holy grail of storytelling. I make no great claims for my track record in this department, but I hope I’ve managed it once or twice. One of the things that helps drive me to write better, more emotional stories is movie music.

I don’t listen to music while I’m writing; I prefer silence (I’ve talked about this before in an earlier post). But I do sometimes find music in my head while the words are coming out. More often than not, it’s music from a film. During the writing of my latest novel, three scores in particular have kept cropping up. All three, interestingly, are real emotional workouts. Not so much music in the head, then, as in the heart.

The Shawshank Redemption – Thomas Newman
A fabulous suite of cues that reinvokes the entire gamut of emotions I experience whenever I watch the film (which remains a solid favourite of mine). ‘An Inch Of His Life’ is dark and claustrophobic , while the soaring finale combination of ‘Compass And Guns’, ‘So Was Red’ and ‘End Title’ reduces me to jelly every time.

King Kong – James Newton Howard
The only place Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong falls down is that it overburdens a simple story with too much love. Love, however, is what comes through in Howard’s impressive score, famously composed in just five weeks. The actions cues are suitably bombastic, but the stand-outs for me are the simple and lyrical ‘A Fateful Meeting’ and ‘Beautiful’, which between them define both Ann’s loneliness and her love for that damn giant ape.

E.T: The Extra Terrestrial
The grand-daddy of all uplifting scores. I’ve heard this I-don’t-know-how-many-times and it never fails to melt my heart. I defy anyone to listen to the 15-minute rollercoaster of ‘Escape/Chase/Saying Goodbye’ without being transported to another dimension.

Comments

  1. Phil Guest says:

    Excellent choices there, Graham.
    Thomas Newman is a particular favourite of mine too. American Beauty is another great score of his – the “Any Other Name” cue, which plays under the climactic scene, is breathtaking.

  2. It’s funny, I listen to music when I write screenplays, but not when I write short or long-form fiction. It just kind of worked out that way for me. lol

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