The first time I noticed the power of music in a movie, I was eight years old and watching Return of the Jedi.
Luke: I will not fight you.
Darth Vader: Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for… sister. So, you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the Dark Side, then perhaps she will…
And THEN. The music! I get chills just thinking about it. As father and son fought, lightsabers bright against the dark backgrounds, the swelling music elevated the moment to one that brought tears to my tiny eyes. I saved up my third grade allowance money and bought the soundtracks to all three films, just for that one moment. And it was totally worth it.
I continued to buy movie soundtracks throughout middle and high school. Although I don’t tend to buy them anymore, my old favorites still regularly blast from my car speakers. When words are too distracting, they are a great musical option that inspires peace and intense emotion. After all, these are the melodies that brought the fire to death scenes, declarations of love, and battle scenes. Below are some of my enduring favorites (click the song title to listen to it on YouTube), though not in order of preference:
- Gladiator (esp. “Now We are Free“)
- Finding Neverland (esp. “Dancing with the Bear“)
- The Two Towers (esp. “The King of the Golden Hall“)
- Peter Pan (esp. “Fairy Dance“)
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (esp. “A Narnia Lullaby“)
- Doctor Who (esp. “Vale Decem“)
- Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (esp. “The Kraken“)
- The Man in the Iron Mask (esp. “All for One“)
What are your favorite movie soundtracks? Leave a comment and let me know!
John Williams is a master of scoring a movie, love a lot of his stuff. I’m also in love with the Lord of the Ring Trilogy Soundtrack, but I’m more partial to The Return of the King (The Black Gate Opens and Into the West). Great List! I’m definitely going to give these soundtracks a listen today!
I LOVE “Into the West.” I would have put every Lord of the Rings soundtrack on the list, but felt like that might have shown an obvious bias. 🙂
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Have you listened to any of the Hobbit soundtracks?
I have! Not nearly as obsessively as I did the ones for Lord of the Rings, but they’re still great. I especially love Billy Boyd’s song, “The Last Goodbye,” though because it has lyrics, I didn’t include it in my list. The music video (which has shots of the cast throughout all six movies) is heartbreaking and worth fifty views!
I just saw the music video today, it got me more emotional then the Hobbit trilogy ever did.
I have chosen to love every aspect of Peter Jackson’s work in Middle-earth, do I can’t technically agree with you, but….yes.
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That’s fair 🙂
Me too! That moment in Return of the Jedi was the first time I remember being moved to chills by a movie soundtrack. I think it was the soundtrack that totally made the original Star Wars trilogy. The themes at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, when they’re racing through Cloud City, move me every time. John Williams is a master. (I was never as much a fan of the prequel soundtracks; they somehow lacked magic — or maybe the movies themselves did. The magic requires a certain synergy.)
Popping in a soundtrack, for me too, evokes intense emotion, reliving all the high moments, like watching the movie in my head.
To add to the list of favorites, in addition to the original Star Wars trilogy:
Superman: The Motion Picture (John Williams)
The Indiana Jones Trilogy (John Williams)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (John Williams)
Star Wars II: The Wrath of Khan (James Horner)
Star Wars III: The Search for Spock (James Horner)
Willow (James Horner)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Jerry Goldsmith)
Batman Begins (Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard)
Back to the Future Trilogy (Alan Silvestri)
In the classic bucket:
Vertigo (Bernard Herrmann)
Marnie (Bernard Herrmann)
Ben-Hur (Miklós Rózsa)
Gah, you’ve gotten me started. Oh, and game music, video game soundtracks, rise almost to the same level for me!
You’re absolutely right–there is a necessary synergy between amazing film and amazing music. If either is lacking, the full emotional impact is dulled. I totally agree with your list, especially Indiana Jones and Batman Begins. It made me remember that I also ADORE the Jurassic Park theme song.
And 100%, I agree that video game soundtracks are worthy of the same level of attention. Maybe that will be another blog post….
Han Zimmer and John Williams are King! I particularly love Finding Neverland.
I thought it was enchanting and poignant with a beautiful score. Would appreciate it if you could check out my 100 Word Review of it: