13 Unforgettable Film Soundtracks II

Since, I did manage to pull off the first post, I am emboldened to go on with the second, given that I could just write on four of the 13 favourite film soundtracks.

So I’ll get to work straight away, and for all the details of what you can expect and what you cannot, I suggest you read the first part here….. https://vahshatedil.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/13-unforgettable-film-soundtracks/

The fifth I choose is the stirring, heroic strains of the overture heard at the beginning of that rather grim story, Lawrence of Arabia – an overture which in its grand tones creates a feel of the boundless and harsh expanse of the desert in which T.E. earned renown.

My first introduction to the craft of David Lean and the music of Maurice Jarre, “Lawrence…” happens to be the second Lean film to furnish a favourite piece of music, after Colonel Bogey’s March from the The Bridge on the River Kwai, but I am not done yet. The next on my list is arguably the most well-known piece of music from a Lean film, even more than Bogey, I would aver.

It is the haunting strains of the Lara’s Theme from Dr Zhivago… what words can I use to describe such an ethereal, dreamlike melody, one with that particular rather plaintive motive, suggestive of underlying tragedy, which so subtly evokes many allied feelings – of yearning, of laments of unfulfilled wishes, of unreq…ohhh, no nothing. Well you have to listen to it and see what effect it has on you.

Well, that does for Lean and Jarre, but it now to an another legendary composer and one of his best-known melodies. It is Henry Mancini and his Pink Panther Theme, as seen at the beginning of the uproarious series of films starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Jacques Closeau. I will not add any qualifying adjective about such a spirited defender of the law, but the jazz motif, mock-heroic theme is amply suited as an introduction to our good inspector. Even if you haven’t seen the films (Oh boy! what a wasted life you’ve led) , you must have heard the theme music somewhere…. though do not imagine it will mean any redemption for you.

Well, with the seventh on my list rendered above, I have mentioned a series of films featuring a celebrated spy, a series featuring a celebrated policeman (using the word in its broadest sense) , three war films and an epic set against the backdrop of war and revolution….. I guess it is now time to changes genres and feature what is termed a ‘Western’… and this no mere western but an epic of the genre, even if it was an adaption of a Japanese film (and in its turn, would itself be adapted by the marvellously original Indian film industry but lets not digress. Even for those who still haven’t identified it, let me list out the principal star cast…. Horst Bucholz, Brad Dexter, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn….. rings a bell? Eli Wallach… still nothing? Okay then the remaining men of the seven-man band… Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner. Got it now?

It is The Magnificent Seven I am talking about…. I shall not talk about its plot, but go to its equally magnificent theme, scored by Elmer Bernstein….. a melody which (I feel) contains a subtle motif of disenchantment, subtly embedded in its melody, reminiscent of glory and resolute action.

This is the disenchantment the most sanguine of men cannot remain immune from at the ‘reward’ for help, even at the cost of one’s life. As I said, I will not speak about the plot, but I will give a brace of dialogues from the film’s end or nearabout therof in support of my contention.

[as Chris, Vin and Chico are about to leave the village]
Old Man: You could a-stay, you know. They wouldn’t be sorry to have you a-stay.
Vin: They won’t be sorry to see us go, either.
Old Man: Yes. The fighting is over. Your work is done. For them, each season has its tasks. If there were a season for gratitude, they’d show it more.
Vin: We didn’t get any more than we expected, old man.
Old Man: Only the farmers have won. They remain forever. They are like the land itself. You helped rid them of Calvera, the way a strong wind helps rid them of locusts. You’re like the wind – blowing over the land and… passing on. Vaya con dios.
Chris: Adios.


[the film’s last lines]

Chris: The old man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We always lose.

Well, the remaining five in the next post….

To be continued…..


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