There is something about a well scored movie that stays with you; Sex, Lies and Videotape, The Shining, Samsara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo…A memorable score or song cue adds something deep and intangible, often eclipsing the movie and taking on a life or meme of it’s own (who can forget Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” in David Lynch’s creep show, Blue Velvet) A Candy Colored Clown They Called The Sandman.
Director Quentin Tarantino utilizes songs and pre-recorded music to full effect. Mr. Tarantino recycled several themes into his 2015 psycho-western, The Hateful Eight from Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack for John Carpenter’s 1982 Sci-Fi remake of The Thing. It worked. The mystery and chilly tone of Morricone’s compositions (many of them never used in Carpenter’s original release) transmuted perfectly into a late 1800’s setting featuring violent, scheming westerners harboring dark secrets during a Wyoming Blizzard Ennio Morricone’s – Bestiality.
A sleeper score which intrigues this writer’s ears (and imagination) is Howard Shore’s classical work on The Game. Utilizing a full orchestra with jarring and off-putting solo piano interludes, Director David Fincher’s mind-warp lulls us into a state where the surreal blurs and crashes in on us. Howard Shore, Happy Birthday, Nicholas. Right from the movie’s opening we know (and feel) we are in for “A profound Life Experience” as Sean Penn’s character, Conrad Van Orton exclaims at one point. The only time where pre-recorded music is used in the film arrives when events take a nasty, invasive turn. Used to eerie effect, Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit bellows from the screen as Michael Douglas’ Nicholas Van Orton deals with a mysterious home invasion.
In many ways ‘The Game’ evokes our own game in the game of life, “specifically tailored for each participant.” Howard Shore’s soundtrack underscores the mystery and the unknown that we all face in life. Our own games often appear and engage us when we need them the most, at a turning point.
The next time you have an opportunity to engage solitude, choose a soundtrack for your earbuds that speaks to you, jazzes you up, something unconventional. Go on a long hike or bike ride with a memorable soundtrack and see what impressions and realizations dawn on you in your own life.