What Music brings to Film

After watching Baby Driver for the 14th time, I started to to think about what music brings to film. Thus, It felt appropriate to examine the importance of the soundtrack to film and why and how it can work so well.

It’s important to note that there is a significant difference between a film’s soundtrack and a film’s score. Pretty much every film has a score, music that is largely orchestral and instrumental which plays during and in between scenes. Scores on their own have become entities that can stand separate from their films; Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws, Lord of the Rings, Psycho, The Godfather, Jurassic Park: all movies that have scores that are instantly recognizable and hugely iconic in their own right. Some of the functions of scores are used to build tension, set the film’s tone and convey emotion.

A soundtrack on the other hand is a compilation of songs, some original and created for the film, others pre-existing material, and they can act in a similar way to a score or simply be released as a piece of merchandising or promotional material for a film. The mark of a great soundtrack is something that becomes instantly memorable, recognisable and, at times, even bigger than the film itself.

Soundtracks are able to forgo the test of time. Let us not forget the greatness of those from the 80s and 90s. You had songs that beautifully capped off movies and etched them instantly into your memory, like The Breakfast Club and ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ by Simple Minds. Songs that defined movies, like Ben E King’s ‘Stand By Me’ from, Stand By Me. Songs that gave the movie their identity, like the plethora of great tunes on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack. Plus, there’s Tarantino and his personality injecting use of music in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. The soundtrack can be the ace in the hole for a director.

The soundtrack is still an important part of cinema. So, often it can help a film to become instantly memorable and give it that much more of an edge over other similar films. I cannot wait to see the soundtracks that arise this year, and the personalities they mold for their films. I shall leave you with a few of my personal favourite film soundtracks, and I offer you to do the same in the comments.

Rushmore (1998) Directed by Wes Anderson


The Graduate (1967) Directed by Mike Nichols


Baby Driver (2017) Directed by Edgar Wright

2 thoughts on “What Music brings to Film

  1. Hi Justin! First of all, you’ve only seen Baby Driver 14 times? I’m kidding, of course, that is a fantastic movie and I absolutely love it. I love thinking about how crucial a good soundtrack is to a movie. It’s awesome to see those videos on YouTube that take certain movie scenes and change the music to drastically change the tone of the overall scene. My favourite example of this is seeing edits of intense action scenes with Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” replacing the soundtrack (in the fashion of “Guardians of the Galaxy 2”). It takes what were once violent, intense, gritty scenes and makes them goofy and lighthearted (while still being quite violent). Music plays a huge role, and I don’t think enough people notice that. My favourite soundtrack of all time would hands down be that of “Swiss Army Man,” it is phenomenal, I highly recommend it, and the movie itself to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

  2. As a person who attempts to create soundtracks and music for movies and videos. I feel it is really important to have music as a way to move the audience when the acting and scene won’t work its full potential. I feel music adds a huge emotional impact on a viewer. With all different genres and stories coming from movies, it’s really important to have a great sound track to add to the feel of the movie. The basic jist of what I’m trying to get at is that without music, it would make a movie either boring or in some cases more intriguing. what I mean by that is, silence also add a bit of suspense to a film. With or without music it mainly depends the theme and the story of the movie as well. Aside from movie genres, My own opinion is that with a good soundtrack, a movie will have a much bigger impact on the viewer.

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