A successful film captures the audience’s emotions, and a piece of powerful film music can help to inspire those feelings. Music can serve various purposes that are either important on the emotional side of the movie or it can enhance storytelling. It is rather essential for any director and producer to keep the music in mind right from the start, when planning/shooting the movie.
An anecdote that clearly reveals the importance of music in movies is one that happened with the movie “The Lost Weekend”, a 1945 film starring Ray Millard.
This intense film about an alcoholic on a weekend bender was originally released without any music at all.
When first shown in the theatres, at the most dramatic scenes of Milland’s descent into an alcoholic blur, the audience snickered and giggled – exactly the opposite of the film maker’s intent. It was quickly pulled from circulation and almost permanently shelved.
However, the composer Miklos Rozsa was brought in to do a score and the movie was re-released to great acclaim! It went on to win the best actor, best picture, and best director, but the score was not acknowledged even though it was the only thing added to the original failed version.
How about that?
As a film composer, I had numerous experiences to witness the power of music by experimenting with different approaches. With music – we can completely change the mood and the message movie will convey to the audience. Music can bring to life – elements that otherwise might not be perceived at all, it can emphasise inner perspectives and stories of the characters. It can both support or add another layer of the story (that was for some reason impossible to convey visually), digging even deeper into audience’s subconscious.
Music can also damage movie’s message if a composer doesn’t nail the precise emotion that it needs. Good film composer needs, besides rich musical experience and knowledge of scoring techniques, an ability to identify to any given emotion. If s/he don’t understand the vastness of different “shades” of the human emotional world, it is close to impossible to express it in music. One can’t go beyond one’s own evolution.
Movie without music is, quoting Audrey Hepburn: “…a little bit like an aeroplane without fuel. However beautifully the job is done, we are still on the ground and in a world of reality.”