Friday, December 28, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Have you ever noticed how much music can make a movie?

Take Halloween, for instance. Take out the creepy octave-jumping in 5/4 time and you got a laughably silly set-up going. It's just not scary without the music. Trust me. I tried it.

However, the inverse can also be true. The wrong piece of music can totally break the mood of a scene, take you right out of the movie, destroy that carefully constructed suspension of disbelief.

Still otherwise, you can have a great piece of music that just doesn't really do anything for a scene. That same piece of music can absolutely smash in another movie, but it doesn't do anything in the wrong place.

See, I just watched Man on Fire again, and I realized instantly that Nine Inch Nails' The Mark Has Been Made is in there, and it's used to perfection. It's also in 300, where I'm not sure I could tell you the scene without watching the movie again (oh, what a shame).

However, in Man on Fire, it perfectly conveys the...disjointed despair...that Creasy feels in the beginning of a flick. He's a man on his last mental leg. A man who cannot forgive himself for his life's work. His only remaining hold on this world is his alcohol and his one friend, and those grips are tenuous at best.

The Mark Has Been Made is exactly that.

And when it changes to that determined, angry drive, so does Creasy. They play just the right snippets to convey his mood. To convey how his motive changes from just holding on because he knows he's damned and holding on just long enough to save the little girl who reminded him it was okay to live.

In 300, I think it might have been when the Persians are arriving in all those boats and a storm swamps a bunch of them. Maybe. But again, I can't be sure without watching it again.

Funny how the same song can be both perfectly used and ill-used. How it can get across the exact right emotion in one movie and leave no impact at all in another.

Oh, well. It's NIN. It can't be bad.

[EDIT: Upon further study -- because I always further study anything that interests me; I'm like a crow that way, "Oh, look! Something shiny!" -- I discovered that Trent Reznor, lead-man and pretty much sole creative force behind NIN, is billed as the "musical consultant" for Man on Fire. Little wonder the music is so well used there. I mean, c'mon. The man is a genius. I may not always agree with him, but I have to respect that kind of brilliance.]

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