I am quite chary of writing this post, since all that the technical knowledge I have about music, could be written on the back of a postage stamp of the smallest denomination. Make that a stamp torn in half – unequally, and the smaller piece serving as the media for the writing in big characters….. or to use another metaphor, my knowledge wouldn’t outstrip the amount many of you would know about.. well, about happenings in the consulship of Servius Sulpicius Galba, or to be more recent, about the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes.
Well, I guess I cannot put it off any longer… I wanted to write about 13 (my lucky number…if you are interested) of my most favourite soundtracks from movies, but given my abyssmal ignorance of the nuances of the subject, you will have to settle from the sum total of my impressions….. and pretty good that will be. Don’t expect a musical critique, profound insights on the technique or the instruments used or so….. caveat emptor is the phrase indicated here.
What I will counsel is that if any of my descriptions of any of the melodies, which you haven’t heard, do influence you enough, then you catch on some site like YouTube, where I guess most of them will be available…. and now I will begin (Into Thy Hands, My Lord)….
An abiding favourite (and one you would have no doubt heard) is what is popularly known as the James Bond Theme. Perhaps, it is the association with the action scenes it heralds, specially those when our hero in a dire situation or in the clutches of a diabolical villain, pulls off some trick from his repertoire to turn the tables on his adversaries….. that distinctive guitar rhythm in the first few bars, and its increasing tempo are so distinctive and captivating, as they even send the adrenalin coursing through our system.
(Well, this wasn’t too tough but still, phew!)
The next will have to be from that splendid war film, The Longest Day, made at a time when the makers could still turn to many of the D-Day veterans, from either side, and did take advantage of their memories.
But I will here just deal with the soundtrack, which is played in its entriety in the end and somehow its music – which to my mind simultaneously expresses the sensations of triumph (that martial drum tattoo midway) , of relief, and a sense of the cost achieving that objective took.
Well, imagine it this way. Read the lyrics below and imagine them transformed into pure music. That might help you understand….
Many men came here as soldiers
Many men will pass this way
Many men will count the hours
As they live the longest day
Many men are tired and weary
Many men are here to stay
Many men won’t see the sunset
When it ends the longest day
The longest day the longest day
This will be the longest day
Filled with hopes and filled with fears
Filled with blood and sweat and tears
Mant men, the mighty thousands
Many men to victory
Marching on right into battle
In the longest day in history
While The Longest Day recounts the story of a victory (I am operating from the perspective of the Allies here), though much struggle lay ahead, the next of my choices – another multi-starrer war movie deals with a costly defeat, one made more tragic by the fact that many warnings were ignored and no efforts taken to ameliorate several mistakes…..
And this is well captured in the theme music, with begins with a rather plaintive motif, which recurs quite often, along the martial beat, combining to make most stirring music…. one that will leave a definite effect on you. It may be also pertinent to note that the composer, Joseph Addison, was himself a veteran of the Battle of Arnhem…..
And from this, we come to another war film… set half across the world, but considerd one of the best in the genre. It is not only for the polished and unforgettable performances of the lead actors portraying the unimaginable brutality men can resort too, but also the resilience of human spirit in dealing with it, but the unmistakable theme music which has become legendary and can be heard in all sorts of places.
Well, for those who haven’t been to figure it yet, I am talking about The Bridge on the River Kwai, and the iconic Colonel Bogey’s March, which many would immediately recognise even if they have no idea of the film.
Who can forget the whistling that introduces the music, before it builds to an impressive crescendo as the brass band picks it the theme, before it again diminishes to the whistling…. Unforgettable!
And I don’t think I have time to include even one more, before bringing this post to a close… its getting way too long. More soon.
To be continued…..