I love film scores. They're great background music for writing, particularly genre film scores that strike a particular mood. Now, I'm not talking about soundtrack albums here, the sort of song-based compilation efforts that swamped the charts after the success of movies like Footloose and Flashdance. [Saturday Night Fever is arguably most to blame for that phenom, but SNF has a lot to answer for in other areas, too.] Sadly, certain composers only seem to possess a single style or musical motif, one that repeat over and over again.
Film score composers are not afraid of borrowing from classical music for their themes. I was surprised to find the score for Downfall [the movie about Hitler's last days in the bunker at Berlin] seemed to replicate the most famous aria from Purcell's Dido and Aneas almost note for note. Similarly, the wonderful, soaring score for The Last of the Mohicans is remarkably similar to a theme from a work by an early music composer whose name escapes me for the moment. Still, it's not like I've never borrowed an idea and developed it in a different setting myself. My Doctor Who novel Amorality Tale was, in essence, the plot of The Long Good Friday transferred to fog-bound London in December 1952, with aliens taking the part fulfilled by the IRA in the John Mackenzie film. I've yet to see a single review notice that, so I guess I developed the idea sufficiently to take it beyond easy recognition of its initial inspiration.
Anyways, just for fun, here's my Top Ten favourite film scores of today, presented in no particular...
ROCKY • Bill Conti
THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS • Randy Edelman, Trevor Jones
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS • Howard Shore
MAGNOLIA • Jon Brion
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD • Elmer Bernstein
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH • Carter Burwell
THE USUAL SUSPECTS • John Ottmann
BACKDRAFT • Hans Zimmer
LEON • Eric Sierra
THE LAST VALLEY • John Barry
So, what are you favourite film scores?