The ‘Twilight’ films may be fondly remembered for their array of gorgeous vistas and stunning costumes, but the world-weary tone of the music didn’t quite match the escapist appeal of the source material.
Now, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ may not be topping the charts, but it’s far from being a bad song. We think it’s fair to say that it’s one of the best – if not the best – songs written for the big-budget fantasy franchise, and it’s not hard to see why. Even if you haven’t heard of it before, you’ll probably know the song once you do.
Back in 2002, a group of four American filmmakers set out to make their own version of ‘Lord of the Rings’ – only instead of fantasy sets and wizards, they decided to go for gritty crime fiction with a dark twist.
As with any great work of art, there are many artists that helped bring ‘Black District’ – as it’s called in theaters – to life. Director Kevin Smith was responsible for the story, while actors Michael Peña, Rosario Dawson and Jon Favreau rounded out the creative team.
The end result was a compelling mix of drama and action (with a hint of romance) that’s as enjoyable today as it was years ago. It’s not often that we get to celebrate a movie’s anniversary, but ‘Black District’ is especially special because it’s the first time director Kevin Smith has released a film that he did not write or produce himself.
One of the biggest problems for ‘Titanic’ back in 1912 was that audiences had already grown tired of the ‘Love Story’ formula. This was a period when the epic romance was at its height, and directors were constantly having to come up with new twists and turns to keep audiences engaged.
What if we told you there was a way to improve ‘Titanic’s’ reception and establish it as a classic? What if we told you that one of the best songs ever written specifically for a motion picture was hidden in plain sight all along, and that you could have heard it if you just knew where to listen?
Well, that would be a lie. The truth is that you probably have never even heard of ‘Titanic’s’ iconic main theme, “My Heart Will Go On”, because it was never mentioned or even alluded to in the film. Yet, it is one of the most iconic songs of all time, cited by composers and songwriters (including Queen) and recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running song in history.
If you’re a musician or a film fan, there’s no question that you’ll know this song. It’s been covered by the greats – from Nat King Cole to Joni Mitchell – and its unforgettable opening chord has been emblazoned on T-shirts and mouse pads across the country (and world).
Toy Story 3
When it comes to franchise music, nobody does it better than Disney. Not since their inception in 1929 has the House of Mouse been so associated with catchy melodies and memorable characters. For three decades, they’ve been the masters of creating catchy movie scores, and none more so than with ‘Toy Story 3′ (2010).
The first two ‘Toy Story’ films were huge successes, so Disney knew exactly what they were doing when they set out to make a third installment. They were not going to mess with any of the formula that worked so well the first time around. They wanted to make it even better.
As such, ‘Toy Story 3′ is packed with familiar characters and comes with enough plot twists to keep even the most devoted fan satisfied. But what is the one detail that you might not know about?
While the first two ‘Toy Story’ films were nominated for Academy Awards, this time around, the Academy didn’t even bother to invite them. The film was purely overlooked, which is a real shame, because it is a masterpiece. It’s hard to think of a more beautifully written, performed, or directed film.
If you’re a fan of George Lucas, it’s not hard to see why he became so iconic. Aside from writing and directing the ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy, he also produced and composed the music for all of the films. So, it’s no wonder that his legacy stands the test of time.
In his role as composer, Lucas often worked with friends and creative colleagues to put together new arrangements of existing tunes for various scenes in the films. Sometimes the theme music would even change mid-movie, not to mention the addition of popular songs from the ‘70s and ‘80s. This approach made for some memorable moments in the saga, especially since many of these arrangements were quite different from the traditional themes that we’re used to hearing.
One of the best examples of this is ‘Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi’ (1983). In order to create something memorable, Lucas turned to his friend and colleague John Williams, who was already well-known for his work on the ‘Indiana Jones’ films. So, it was only natural that he would be the man behind the music for this final installment.
The result is one of the most iconic film soundtracks of all time. Even now, 35 years after the last film was released, fans are discovering new tracks and remembering old ones thanks to the efforts of John Williams. It’s not hard to see why he’s regarded as one of the greatest film composers of all time.
While we’re on the subject of films, it’s a good idea to discuss one of the most influential and well-known scores of all time, Thomas Newman’s ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2001). It should come as no surprise, since Thomas Newman was a renowned film critic and musicologist, but it’s often difficult to piece together just where he came from and how he became so influential.
The film is set in the Qing Dynasty during the reign of the Dragon King. Its main characters are Yu Shu Lien and her twin brother Yu Tai, who is missing. To find him, she sets out to explore the vast desert of Yu Shan, where the story takes place. On her journey, she encounters an array of colorful characters, including the Dragon King. When she discovers that her brother is the Dragon King’s prisoner, she goes on a quest to free him, fighting off rival tribes and battling beasts along the way. It’s an amazing movie, and its soundtrack is just as good.
Speaking of tribes and rivalries, ‘Karate Kid’ (1984) is filled with them. It’s the story of Mr. Miyagi, who runs the Miyagi Dojo. He befriends a young man named Mike (played by Ralph Macchio), who seeks his help finding a job as an assistant to a big-time architect. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, they’re building a tree house together. It’s an idyllic, suburban living situation for Mike, but it turns out that Mr. Miyagi isn’t all that he seems. Turns out he’s been raising some eyebrows by training an elite group of kids in the martial arts.
To get an idea of how good the music is in this film, you need only look at the credits. Besides contributing the memorable main theme and putting together some killer tracks for the movie, Ted Jensen (who has scored numerous movies, including ‘The Dark Knight’) also composed numerous songs for the soundtrack. It was one of the most sought-after soundtracks of the ‘80s, and it still is today. (Maybe it still is necessary to mention that it was one of the biggest-grossing films of its time – something like $30 million at the time of its release. It had a large international fan base, and it still does.)