Thursday, May 03, 2012

Sergei Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky

Sergei Prokofiev scored Sergei Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky (1938) in a way that strengthens and enhances the film. He synchronized each passage to fit a particular scene's mood and context. The Teutonic Knights and their "religious" collaborators are given a sinister theme, while the people of Rus rally to a more folksy and mystical aural backdrop. This not particularly subtle pattern has been repeated in numerous other movies ever since, to varying degrees of effectiveness. Here it works.

Off the top of my head, I can think of several scores that inextricably tie film with soundtrack as with Prokofiev's for Alexander Nevsky: in that when one thinks of a certain film, the associated music is also recalled, and when the music soundtrack is heard out of context, one immediately summons memories of its cinematic source.

For instance: David Lynch's Blue Velvet (Angelo Badalamenti, 1986); Mike Nichols' The Graduate (Dave Grusin, Simon & Garfunkel, 1967); the Sergio Leone epics (Ennio Morricone); the James Bond theme (Monty Norman) and also the title songs for most of the 007 series; Woody Allen's Manhattan (George Gershwin selections, 1979). Let me not forget several works by the Coen Brothers, plus Werner Herzog.  

Cable TV series have been underscoring the importance of music selections and soundtracks for quite a while, HBO and its rivals included. Their music archivists and editors have done impressive and sometimes quite subtle synchronization to enhance mood and meaning.

Now, dear reader, aside from musicals and music documentaries, what are some of your favorite movie soundtracks?

Today's Rune: Defense.      


the walking man said...

I always thought the soundtrack was supposed to be unrecognized, subtle reinforcement of the films arc. If a movie forces me to listen to the soundtrack it is not entertaining.

Erik Donald France said...

Hey, Mark, thanks for the comment!

After musing on this a little more, I'm adding The Godfather, Lawrence of Arabia and Patton, plus Kubrick's 2001 and Clockwork.

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't often listen to movie scores but they are often amazing pieces of work. Difficult to get the right music synchronized to the visuals and create the mood. THere are some good ones out there.

Anonymous said...

The themes to The Exorcist, Dr. Zhivago and Bridge over the River Kwai are other good examples