Music in Film. Films with Music.
It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Like this combination was made for each other. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Salt and Pepper. Ross and Rachel. Almost as if they were created to complement each other. That they were soulmates. I have always felt such a strong tie to the relationship between a film and its scoring, or how they create the tone of the scene perfectly by adding a song that was relevant to that time. In some cases, television and film offer the music that needs to be heard a voice- an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. It gives that song an identity.
I assumed, that everyone thought this way. That everyone noticed every little detail of the film’s production, how they intentionally placed specific songs in the soundtracks, and the connection and pull that it brought about to really capture the writer’s thoughts and allow the scene to be that much more impactful to the audience. These are the things that have always captured a majority of my thoughts. What can I say? Apparently, I am a film buff and a music junkie, but that this very moment in time I am lost. Feeling left with no direction to turn, no purpose looking forward, and no idea what I am to do next.
So, I’ll write.
Now as I sit and reflect, my memory is drawn to a quiet day in Algebra II class my sophomore year of High School. Please note that math simply isn’t my thing. It doesn’t make sense to me and I am almost certain that it never will. But that day something was brought to my attention that made even less sense than the math did. I remember that I was looked around the classroom analyzing the walls and all the th
ings that made them different just as I had in every classroom each and every day. You could say it was one of my past times back in the day. My teacher that year was Jamie Rentzel and I was always so drawn to her as a person. She understood that some of us did not have mathematical minds and they we required more than commendable outside help in order to slightly grasp the material. She understood that some of us couldn’t learn by simply watching her write the numbers on the screen- that we would require one-on-one teaching during our lunch periods- and she didn’t care. She was happy to give up her free time to help us. What she did for us during those times when we sat in class not knowing 1 from an invisible number was different. She gave us something else to look at, ponder, and allowed us to creatively sore. Her room was decorated wall to wall with movie posters. They were plastered all of the walls as if she couldn’t bare to face the white walls of insanity either and needed to do something about it. Other teachers judged her saying that it was too distracting but she didn’t care. She didn’t care one little bit. I have always admired her for this.
I was sitting at my desk staring off into the distance at a poster for the film titled The Graduate. Yeah, you’ve heard of it. If you haven’t, you probably live under a rock and you don’t deserve to know how great a young Dustin Hoffman is anyways. A week prior to this, I had watched the film for the first time. What can I say? The poster had peeked my interest and let me just say two words: MRS. ROBINSON. It was then when I began my
bender on Simon and Garfunkel and began pining after every piece of their vinyl I was to come into contact with. If you didn’t know or care to notice because apparently, some people don’t notice things like this, but the film uses Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Roninson in multiple rearrangements all throughout the duration of the film. Classic. This blew my mind.
I remember commenting on the use of the song in the film a loud although feeling inaudible to those around me. I said something to the extent of “ Don’t you just love the relationship between films and the music within them? I really believe that’s what creates the movie magic blah blah blah.” Suddenly, a boy named Colton’s voice appeared at my right side. He quickly responded to my rather questioning comment by saying that he had never noticed. This took me by surprise, to say the least. I went into teenage melodramatic shock.
I immediately began my in-depth speed round of 20 questions. “ What do you mean?” I asked. “Why do you think they add music to the movies in the first place” and “ If there isn’t a relationship between the two things then why are they viewed with such relevance?”
He began to service my claims by saying that the acting was what makes the film a great film. He wasn’t looking into all of the little things that pulled the scene together. I remember him using a scary movie as an example. “ We aren’t scared because of the story,” he said, “but rather the jumping out to the camera that makes us scared.” I attempted to agree as acknowledge that this plays part in the process. I then asked him to think of not just the musical tracks playing within the film but to simply look at the use of sound effects- specifically in scary movies. He paused. Colton had a puzzled look on his face and I asked him “What are you confused about”? He answered by saying that he didn’t understand. Now I had the puzzled look on my face. How could he not get it?
Countless made up theories raced through my mind.
I then began to explain to him that although the action of them jumping at the camera was intended to be the scary aspect of the film, the use of suspenseful music leading up to, followed by uneasy silence to immediately have the jump with a large noise was necessary to create the sense of fear within the viewing audience. That regardless of the type of film, it was a technique developed to evoke our emotions.
And suddenly, it clicked. He understood in full clarity and regularly contacts me to discuss the newest films that he has seen. And although I always knew that I wanted to work within the magical realm that is the entertainment industry, I now understand two things from that day: 1) That I might be able to take these thoughts, love of music, and love of writing to create something special and 2) that in taking this unconventional career path I could potentially help someone, open their eyes to the undervalued wonders of the world- my world, and maybe even help save someone’s life.
So with that, I will leave you with 3 things until we next meet- First, I want to thank you, Mrs. Rentzel, for always encouraging self-love and creativity. For acknowledging that not all students are the same and thrive in other areas, and for creating warm walls of safety in what felt like an asylum. Secondly, you’re welcome, Colton. And to close a quote by Linda Ronstadt that says, “Everywhere you go, there’s a soundtrack. You can’t really quite hear it. It’s just a little out of the range of hearing.”