Top 5 – Movie Soundtrack Pieces

7 02 2011

It’s time for the my 1st countdown list on this blog! I’m combining my two passions in life, film and music to present to you my top 5 pieces of music from the movies. Borrowing a leaf from the Screw Attack gaming website, I’m going to limit it to one piece of music per film. Note that this won’t be your regular old top film music list. You know what I mean; blah blah star wars theme, yadda yadda jurassic park etc. If you don’t agree with something in this list, or would like to add your five penneth into the ring, then leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you. A good usage of music should be able to make you think of the scene it’s taken from in an instant, or should perfectly accompany the images on screen to create a wonderful juxtaposition of sight and sound.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

#5 – Dick Dale – Miserlou

Pulp Fiction is one of all time favourite movies. I can watch it from start to finish and every time I’m completely engrossed by the story. An absolute masterclass in non-linear narrative structure (the film isn’t in a linear order) The acting from every single actor (Travolta, L. Jackson, Willis, Thurman and Walken to name but a few) is fantastic. The only weak link has to be Quentin’s cameo appearance. In each of his films, Quentin has a knack for choosing music which really sets off a scene and is the proverbial icing on the cake. There is a reason that this film is loved in the way that it is. The script throughout is just tantalising. The interplay at the start between John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson as Vincent and Jools respectively has to be seen to be felt. The section of the film concerning John Travolta and Uma Thurman might just be the pinnacle of this film, but in no way does that mean the other sections are poor. Far from it. Miserlou comes from the first few minutes of the film. After a well crafted exchange between Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer and Amanda’s Immortal lines culminating in …’And I’ll execute every mother******* last one of ya’ – Miserlou kicks in and from that moment on, you know you are in for something special.


#4 – Philip Glass – The Grid

Frequent readers of this blog will remember this piece from the Wordless Wednesday post the other day. Incase you didn’t see it… This piece is a very long piece of music which augments the films visuals. Koyaanisqatsi is a poetic documentary (it’s meanings, and anchorage are depicted through the combination of what you see, and what you hear, as apposed to a traditional sense where you have a voice over detailing the action) about life being out of balance. The Grid is the films most recognised part and features some stunning cinematography and shots throughout. This section of the film is all about how fast paced modern day living has become and how quickly day to day activities have become in our lives. It really has to be seen to be believed. The first time I saw this during my degree course, I was stunned in awe.

#3 – Pink Floyd – Come in #51 (aka Careful With That Axe, Eugene (Alternate Version)

This choice is from a relatively little-known film called Zabriskie Point. Pink Floyd were commissioned to compose the soundtrack for the film. Amongst the music recorded for the film was this gem. Essentially, it’s Careful With That Axe, Eugene; just in a different key and altered from the original a little bit. In the introduction to this post, I said that a good piece of music in a film creates a wonderful pairing of sight and sound, and this scene is up there with the best. Apparently… ‘The explosion…represents the psychological separation from corporate greed, superficiality, and racial injustice’ – New York Times – February 10, 1970. That much may be true, but the final result is a treat for the senses.

#2 – Shigeru Umebayshi – The Echo Game

This piece is taken from what might just be my favourite overall soundtrack of all-time. This is taken from a Chinese film called Shi Mian Mai Fu or to give it it’s western title: House Of Flying Daggers. The very first time I saw this film I was amazed beyond belief. I was having a film night to myself and this was the 3rd film I’d watched in a row (after Naked Gun 33 1/3 and Vantage Point) I’d only brought the DVD about 2 days before on a spur. No doubt driven by Milky’s presence in my life, a chinese film seemed appropriate but I never got round to seeing this film at the cinema or on TV etc. However, what I got was far beyond what I could of ever expected. Zhang Yimou instantly became a favourite director and I’ve begun to seek out other works by him. This film is single handily responsible for sparking an interest in both Chinese Film and the Wuxia genre. The film is a full steam ahead attack on the senses. It transports you to another world. The special effects are amazing, the soundstage is exquisite and the overall cinematography is second to none. I have posted the full Echo Game scene here so you get the full effect. To set the story, Takeshi Kaneshiro (the one throwing the nuts) has come to wrongfully take away and lock up Zhang Ziyi (the dancer) but allows her a chance at redemption if she can play and complete The Echo Game. That’s basically the story of the scene in a nutshell, but the film’s plot is far deeper and more involved in that, with double crosses, twists and turns galore and an ending I didn’t see coming. Prepare to be blown away!

#1 – Luis Bacalov – The Grand Duel (Parte Prima)

If I had to list my favourite movies, Kill Bill Vol. 1 might just top that list. It is a sure fire contender for Quentin Tarantino’s finest hour. The film relies more on action and visuals unlike it’s counterpart Vol 2. Both are great films in their own right (or should that be one film?) However, I prefer Vol 1. Just like previous works by QT, it’s told using a non-linear structure. Uma Thurman was once a member of the deadly viper assassination squad, before being stitched up by the squad and left for dead by the leader Bill (David Carradine) She sets about killing each member of the squad including Bill. That’s essentially the story, but I won’t spoil it anymore then that for those of you who haven’t seen it. The first time we hear The Grand Duel is during the back story of Lucy Liu’s character (O-Ren Ishii) which is told through the medium of anime. I first saw this film on TV, and I believe this section was edited down to make it that little bit less graphic. Even so, it was still very intense. However, the music that plays during the anime is extremely powerful, and even on it’s own taken away from the film it’s a stimulating piece of music. But set against the anime, it’s wonderful. I’ve put up two videos. One of the song on it’s own… and the other being the anime scene.

However be warned, the Anime scene is highly graphic and carries a solid 18 rating. If you are reading this blog with young children close by, or you’re a sensitive viewer, I have to strongly suggest you play the song only. (1st video)

I hope you enjoyed this little run-down of songs from movies. I shall be posting more countdown lists in the future amongst other things. Feel free to comment, and spread the word.

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3 responses

7 02 2011

You put alot of work and thought into this post – nicely presented. Noticed a new header picture – deeper, darker and calming….I like it!

7 02 2011

Thankyou. I think it was the most time I’ve spent in the writing window. At least one hour plus. After I put the original videos in, I tested them before publishing and some of them had embedding restrictions, so I did a bit of hunting and mild compromise et voila I managed to get it all done. I’m pretty proud of that list.

As for the new header pictures. I was poking around the various menus and buttons on the left out of curiosity and I found a page with about 15 different photos on to go on the top bar. It was nice to have a change. I’m impressed you noticed too hehe! Thanks for commenting!

7 02 2011
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