One of the main reasons why I love film is because of the soundtracks. I cannot get over how a composer can write the most perfect piece of music for film; a piece so perfect, that it sounds like the film was made for the music instead. Here are my top ten choices, which was unbelievably difficult to choose. These are in no particular order:
1.) Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights: A very unknown film, which is a huge shame because for me this is a brilliant adaptation of the novel. Ralph Fiennes gives one of his best performances as Heathcliff, and Juliette Binoche, although her French accent seeps through now and again, is the perfect Cathy. The score is composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, and is hauntingly stunning. The soundtrack is very hard to get hold of, luckily for me my sister found one. But if ever get the chance, watch the film and check out the soundtrack.
2.) William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet: This adaptation was disgracefully overlooked at the Oscars, not only because of it's incredible performance from DiCaprio or it's innovative direction, but it's soundtrack is the most divine and beautiful piece in film. It really captures the youth of our young lovers, the magic of their being in love and the beauty of the moments they share. It really is quite overwhelming to hear, and is Craig Armstrong's greatest piece.
4.) Up!: The soundtrack for this movie is quite weird because it almost acts as the soundtrack to all our memories. For me, the main theme in this movie 'Married Life' is the sound of nostalgia. It's the perfect sound to accompany any of our photo albums, and any memories of times we wish we could go back to. The perfect soundtrack to look back, reflect, cherish and even mourn. Composer Michael Giacchino definitely deserved his Oscar for his music in this film. I could not believe it when Avatar didn't win the Oscar for it's music, but after watching Up!, I could see why.
5.) Avatar: Talking of Avatar, this is also one of my favourite soundtracks. I love James Horner, I think his soundtracks are gorgeous. What I love about his work on Avatar is that the music has a mysterious quality which suits the different surroundings Jake Sully finds himself in, but also there is an element of transcendence for Jake realises that there is something more to life on this planet that us humans forgot on Earth. I particularly his use of, I'm not sure what you call it, but tribal instruments, especially in the song 'Jake's First Flight', it really feels like we are on flying with him and on this incredible journey with him. As his heart races, ours races, and that is the beauty of this soundtrack, it totally involves you and makes you as amazed as Jake as he discovers more of this strange world he is in.
6.) American Beauty: Thomas Newman really proved himself with this soundtrack, although he had composed great pieces on his previous films, his work on American Beauty really stands tall. This is real ambient, dreamlike sound throughout the score that draws us in to 'behind closed doors' setting of the film. Everything seems surreal and it's like we are viewing everything in hindsight- which we are. We know Lester dies, and as we watch the film we can see why maybe things could lead to his death so Newman's music really helps create this kind of dreamy perspective on things. My favourite parts of the score are the piano pieces like 'Angela Undress' in the scene where Lester tries to have a heart to heart with Jane. The zoom in on the photo of the Burnham family years ago is matched with a subtle piano piece that sounds so fragile, mirroring the fragility of the family's situation, the slight touch of the notes in the piece adds to the fact that they are all missing the point. None of them even notice the happy photo infront of them, when Lester does notice near the end of the film, all his worries and problems cease and he realises the true meaning of his life, and that there is nothing for him to be unhappy about.
7.) The Hunchback of Notre Dame: There are so many great Disney soundtracks, most of which are my favourites, but this one is outstanding. Just when we thought Alan Menken couldn't beat his work on The Little Mermaid and Beauty & the Beast, he composed his most powerful score. Combining the toll of real bells, with massive choirs and Latin phrases from the Catholic mass, this soundtrack is literally soul-shaking, and as magnificent as the drawings of the great Notre Dame herself. I feel that the score mirrors the cathedral massively, with it's soaring choir voices matching the dominating towers of the building. One great scene which is rather dark for Disney, is where Frollo admits privately his feelings, or rather, his lust for Esmeralda, and he sings 'Hellfire' which encapsulates his fear at thinking unholy thoughts, but also his raging passion for her. There are also truly touching and less bold parts, including 'God Help the Outcasts' and 'Heaven's Light' that capture the beauty, instead of the achievement, of the the cathedral. A truly outstanding achievement by Menken, and another jewel in Disney's crown.
9.) The Deer Hunter: Everyone knows Stanley Myer's famous guitar piece in this film. I never before felt like I could hear a guitar weeping, although there have been many mournful acoustic pieces. But the theme for The Deer Hunter is so full of woe, memory and grief. Even though there are no lyrics, it feels like the guitar is saying 'they're gone' (that's how I feel anyway). This soundtrack is one of those rare times where it music goes perfectly with how you feel. Everytime I have been down or upset, the music from the picture almost expresses my grief for me. there are other beautiful pieces on the soundtrack, and the Russian hymns included, particularly 'Memory Eternal', and the hymns they play during the hunting scenes in the misty mountains, are chilling to the core.
Here are others of my favourites which I could not include: The Untouchables, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Malena, Braveheart, Titanic, Once Upon a Time in Ameirca, Sense and Sensibility, Il Gattopardo, Love Actually, The Lion King, Gladiator, The English Patient, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, The Godfather.