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Thread: Great uses of pre-existing music in films

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Default Great uses of pre-existing music in films

    What films do remember watching that utilised non-original music (i.e music that wasn't written specifically for the film) selections in a nice fashion?

    I watched Bronson the other day and thought the use of classical music by the likes of Wagner, Puccini, Strauss, Verdi and Delibes, along with the electro/synth influenced elements was one of its best features. The director seemed to use the beatiful classical pieces to juxtapose the supposedly grim setting of prison and add to the comedic atmosphere. At least I think it was meant to be comedic. Tom Hardy definitely played the character for laughs.

    2001 is the obvious choice here but there must be loads.
    Last edited by Argus; Jul-26-2010 at 22:08.

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    Mendelssohn violin concerto in Les Visiteurs (French movie with Jean Reno and Christian Clavier).

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    My favourite is Death in Venice with Mahler's 5th - beautifully set

    Elvira Madigan with K467

    Death and the Maiden with Schubert

    There was a French film, a kind of love story, that used lots of Schubert - can't remember the name.

    Fantasia, obviously

    Not at all nice, but A Clockwork Orange of course, with Beethoven and Rossini and Purcell

    Likewise, the Ride of the Valkyries in Apocalypse Now

    There are of course the films about composers eg another French film about Lully which used lots of his music (starred Depardieu)

    I am surprised it has not been done more frequently

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    Oh yes - and The Marriage of Figaro in the Shawshank Redemption you could say, though different since he actually put a record on so the sound was diegetic

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    Jeff N
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    Mozart in Shawshank is great. There's also Brahms' Violin Concerto in There Will Be Blood, Thus Spoke Zarathustra in 2001, and Barber's Adagio for Strings in Platoon.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff N View Post
    Mozart in Shawshank is great. There's also Brahms' Violin Concerto in There Will Be Blood, Thus Spoke Zarathustra in 2001, and Barber's Adagio for Strings in Platoon.
    I don't want to spoil the film for those who haven't seen it, but that's another case where the jolly, lively music contrasts with brutal actions by the protagonist. The original score by Johnny Greenwood is also fitting, particularly the part where the tower blows up.

    The problem with Platoon is that it totally overuses that piece of music.

    Another blatant use is Rachmaninoff's PC No 2 in Brief Encounter, as well as Liszt's Liebestraume No 3 in All About Eve.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    John Boorman's Excalibur uses "Siegfreid's Death and Funeral Music" to epic effect as well as other Wagner excerpts. It also uses the ubiquitous O Fortuna from Carmina Burana.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZpdN7nIv0A

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    Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice made moving use of the St Matthew Passion

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    Senior Member Sebastien Melmoth's Avatar
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    Off the top:

    St. Matthew Passion in Casino.
    Schubert's Quintet in Carrington.
    The Lacrimosa from Mozart's Requiem in Come and See.
    Strauss' Four Last Songs in Tom and Viv.
    Strauss, Khachaturian, Ligeti in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    Shostakovich, Ligeti in Eyes Wide Shut.
    Bartók in The Shining.
    Last edited by Sebastien Melmoth; Jul-27-2010 at 00:43.

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    Senior Member Earthling's Avatar
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    Oddly enough, the first thing that comes to my mind is Mussorgsky's "Gnomus" from Pictures at an Exhibition ... used to hilarious effect in The Big Lebowsky.

    George Lucas' underrated film, THX-1138, uses the St. Matthew Passion at the end. I seem to recall that for the opening credits (which run backward) includes music by Lalo Schifrin which was simply a Bach piece transcribed in reverse (I don't recall all the details now), which was quite unsettling.
    At last to guess, instead of always knowing. To be able to say “ah” and “oh” and “hey” instead of “yea” and “amen. ” ~ Wings of Desire

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    Several of the films mentioned are Kubrick's - worth checking out his others eg Dr Strangelove and Paths of Glory

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    What films do remember watching that utilised non-original music (i.e music that wasn't written specifically for the film) selections in a nice fashion?
    The Cannes Palme d'Or winner - "The Chungking Express".

    I remember the year it came out and I was watching it in cinema....the lead guy (a policeman) goes up to a mobile take away caravan and orders a noodle. The waitress is standing there preoccupied by the Mamas & Papas' "California Dreamin" and is bopping away absent mindedly to it.

    Everytime he comes back, it's the same music, and she's at it, bopping away absent-mindedly lol.

    Since then, I've found the most authoritative cover version of 'California Dreamin' ever! By the River City People - of Liverpool. Not far from Mancunia

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkP7mMQ9o_A

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    Senior Member Edward Elgar's Avatar
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    2001: A Space Odyssey – It isn’t Thus Spoke Zarathustra that does it for me in this film. It’s Johann Strauss. The jump cut that leads to the Blue Danube sequence has me in tears contemplating mankind’s achievements in science and culture. Ligeti’s choral music that represents the voice of the monolith is also an inspired choice.

    A Clockwork Orange – For me, Beethoven’s 9th in this film represents victory over the automated ethics imposed on the main character. Ethics must come from choice and free will, and Beethoven can show you the way!

    Barry Lyndon – The restrained and dignified music in this film is a wonderful mirror of how society restrains and suppresses the main character. For me, the most inspired choice is the Schubert Piano Trio, used to great effect when Barry makes a move on Countess Lyndon.

    The Shining – This film introduced me to the music of Bartók and Krzysztof Penderecki. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. Bartók's music is used to create an eerie atmosphere, while Penderecki’s music is used for panic and horror.

    Eyes Wide Shut – I was a bit hesitant in accepting the Shostakovich Waltz as a title theme as I thought the film was going to be a cheap erotic thriller. As I realized this was not the case and in fact an attack on the decadence of the aristocracy I couldn't think of a better piece to play through the titles. Ligeti’s piano piece shows that to create tension, you only need two notes. Sounds familiar – JAWS!!!
    When all the paint has been dried, when all the stone has been carved, music shall remain, and we shall work with what remains.

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earthling View Post
    Oddly enough, the first thing that comes to my mind is Mussorgsky's "Gnomus" from Pictures at an Exhibition ... used to hilarious effect in The Big Lebowsky.
    I've seen the Big Lebowski a good few times and can't really remember what part that music is used in. Is it the when they are watching that performance art piece with the fat guy? I will say the Kenny Rogers song is perfectly employed in the dream sequence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Head case
    Since then, I've found the most authoritative cover version of 'California Dreamin' ever! By the River City People - of Liverpool. Not far from Mancunia

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkP7mMQ9o_A
    Prefer the original. Although the singer is a bit easier on the eye than Mama Cass.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roberto
    Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice made moving use of the St Matthew Passion
    Tarkovsky also used BWV 639 well in Solaris.

    Thought of another one. The overture from Rossini'd La Gazza Ladra in the hospital nursery scene in Once Upon a Time in America. Also, in that film the Beatles Yesterday and Gershwin's Summertime at the dinner party at the end.

    Piazzolla's bandoneon flavours Twelve Monkeys nicely.

    If we include any kind of music then Tarantino films have to be mentioned. Stuck in the Middle by Stealers Wheel, Little Green Bag by George Baker, You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry, Dick Dale's Misirlou, Bustin' Surfboards by The Tornadoes, Surf Rider by The Lively Ones, Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack, Didn't I by the Delfonics, and a good few more were all picked from relative obscurity and became forever associated with the movies and even scenes they were used in.

    Yet another Kubrick film with great music choices is Full Metal Jacket. Surfin' Bird by The Trashmen, Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones, Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs and nancy Sinatra's These Boots are Made for Walkin'. Again lively dance songs used in heavy thematic material.

    Although an incredibly mushy film, Forrest Gump uses some good music to represent the passing of time and the forward movement in America's history.

    Bohemian Rhapsody in Waynes World.

    Yeah, if we include non-classical then it becomes harder not to name a million and one films.

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    Senior Member Earthling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Argus View Post
    I've seen the Big Lebowski a good few times and can't really remember what part that music is used in. Is it the when they are watching that performance art piece with the fat guy?
    LOL yes, that's the scene!
    At last to guess, instead of always knowing. To be able to say “ah” and “oh” and “hey” instead of “yea” and “amen. ” ~ Wings of Desire

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