Favorite Musical Moments at the Movies

May 31, 2007 at 05:27 AM · What are your favorite musical moments in the movies (old movies or new ones)? It doesn't necessarily have to be solo violin, or an orchestral string section. It could be any music at all you have heard at a favorite moment in any movie, and which somehow inspires you.

Replies (22)

May 31, 2007 at 05:27 AM · There's Luke Skywalker watching that double sunset in "Star Wars"...

May 31, 2007 at 08:56 AM · The "preparing for battle" montage sequence in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, score by Michael Kamen. :)

May 31, 2007 at 11:48 AM · That part in Braveheart where he's running on the mountainside. The camera pans out, and there's this old man talking about how many people William Wallace killed (with a thick Scottish accent): "Fifty men. Fifty, if it was one." Accompanied by joyful celtic jigs and powerful orchestral backup.

And then there's the Chariots of Fire soundtrack. Yeah, go run on a beach.

And another favorite scene of mine is the end of The Black Stallion, when the boy is making a comeback during the match race, and he remembers his days on the island, when it was just him and his horse, and how they rode across the sand with no saddle or bridle, just the raw bond between horse and boy to navigate the two. And then he lets go of the reins and the horse just goes. The music is still, quiet, and expansive in contrast with the uproar of the crowd in the bleachers who is witnessing this momentous feat. That part makes me cry every single time. Starting around 4:00 The theme that's played for the credits is perhaps the closest to my heart of any piece ever written. After all, I saw this movie when I was four, and it was my first true love.

Also check out Secretariat winning the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.

Those are so inspiring I can't even sleep.

May 31, 2007 at 11:45 AM · The scenery pans in Dances With Wolves

(Ooh, Laurie, I just LOVED that double sunset scene and music. At the time I thought I was in love with Mark Hamill, then I caught on that I was in love with the movie soundtrack.)

May 31, 2007 at 12:29 PM · The ramming speed scene in Ben Hur (feat. Miklós Rózsa)

Lots of Chaplin scenes like the globus scene of the Great Dictator

In Hitchcocks The Man Who Knew Too Much there's a 12 minute long sequence of a London Symphony Orchestra performance in the Albert Hall without any dialogue. The killer waits for the cymbals to shoot an ambassador. The orchestra appears already in the opening credits, which finishes with "A single crash of cymbals and how it rocked the lives of an american family."

Paris, Texas (Ry Cooder's slide guitar), Trainspotting (almost all of their trips), Apokalypse Now (Walküre), Platoon (Barber-sequence), 2001 (Ligeti and the Danube), Cyrano (balcony scene!), American Beauty etc...

And Le Bal!

It traces the history of Europe/France/Paris through a dancehall and its patrons in the last century. There is no dialogue- only dancing and music and the personal interactions of the patrons. If it sounds strange and different, that may be because it is. A small group of actors and actresses play different roles in each era, and it is amazing how your feelings about them change with each era.


Different, but great.

May 31, 2007 at 02:33 PM · I was sitting at the piano today, tinkering, and looked in the piano seat and found an old score for the love song from 'An Affair to Remember'. I played through a bit of it, and the movie came to life in my mind once more. It got me thinking about writing this thread.

I couldn't stand the movie when I first saw it on DVD a few years ago, but I actually like it now. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I love the scene when Cary Grant goes back to visit his grandmother's place, to take possession of it, and no one's there anymore. The woman he loves has run out on him, and his grandmother has passed away. He's all alone, and he remembers this song, and he hears it playing in his mind. Sheesh. I'm a romantic.

That Star Wars moment is also an all-time favorite of mine Laurie. It has been since I was 12. My computer speakers aren't working at the moment for some reason but I want to listen to all those posted examples, especially 'The Black Stallion'.

May 31, 2007 at 01:50 PM · My favorite movie, "The Red Shoes", has a 15 minute ballet-within-the-film called, "The Red Shoes Ballet". The music was composed by Brian Easdale. The music is really beautiful, and the dancing is just great.

May 31, 2007 at 02:30 PM · The music by Anne Dudley to American History X is quite moving. Just last night I teared up at the scene with Edward Norton in the shower, reflecting on life as he deals with getting out of prison, of he and his brother as children running on an ocean beach, chasing seagulls.

Other favorites--Love Theme and Main Title from The Mystery of Rampo by Akira Senju

Ride of the Fire Mares from the film Krull--James Horner

Much of the Thin Red Line score is great, though I'm not a big fan of Hans Zimmer. The orchestration of God U Tekem Laef Blong Mi at the end is beautiful, plus the scene that utilizes The Unanswered Question (not in the soundtrack, unfortunately, but then again that's not Zimmer), and Journey to the Line, the way it builds. Agh, I wish I was at home and could listen to it.

Ulysses' Gaze--Eleni Karaiandrou--the scene where Harvey Keitel and Erland Josephson are walking through the ruined streets of Sarajevo, and there's an orchestra playing and choir singing in a fenced park, with snow on the ground and mist in the air.

May 31, 2007 at 03:36 PM · What, NO-ONE is going to mention the "Witches of Eastwick" cello seduction scene? And Jack Nicholson pretending (badly) to play the violin, with a ridiculously aggressive Pag 16? Or the marvelous scene in "Chaplin" with Robert Downey Jr. where li'l Bobby is playing Chaplin playing the violin? But, for no apparent reason, holding it in the right hand, bowing with the left, and wearing just a towel and a sense of frustration? No one?

May 31, 2007 at 06:41 PM · If this post is about "favourites", then thankfully we have good copies of Ben Hur, Black Stallion, Lawrence of Arabia, Red Shoes, Magnificent Seven (great theme song), Snowy River (horse, man, music) and hundreds of others. Testaments each that great movies do not need gory violence or explicit sex.

I would have many favourites, all requiring time to research the details to put forth correctly in a post. But one of my favourites, though not of the genre noted by others, comes from my childhood: Bugs Bunny as the Barber of Seville. Still today, 40 yrs later, I can laugh and recall other happy moments with my parents, and appreciate the music. Rossini remains a favourite of mine. I have pondered in latter years how Rossini would have reacted to such a use of his lovely music: I hope he would have laughed too at old Bugs.

Anyway, Bugs is not the "inspiring" experience noted by others above, but is a "favourite" in my memory. It proved to me that people of all occupations can and have been influenced by the classics, be they musicians, film directors, or cartoonists, and underscores the evergreen quality of the genius the masters had. I suppose the nostalgic aspect for me is why Bugs et al remain a favourite. I still laugh at the stutter of Porky Pig, and I miss the talents of Mel Blanc. It is not the same talent as say a Van Gogh, Mozart, or hundreds of others, but the blend of those cartoons, voice, and music is I think worthy of praise. In the hope creative talents will continue to surface, in this respect recordings of music and videos give me inspiration.

May 31, 2007 at 07:38 PM · I fed Secretariat an apple! It was in Paris :) But don't try it at home. There's a technique to feeding a horse an apple but keeping your fingers on your hand.

May 31, 2007 at 07:55 PM · Things that stick in the mind after many hours of listening have killed lesser music:

Jerry Goldsmith's score for Planet of the Apes , in which he used elements of the language of modern music to produce a very accessible and entertaining film score.

...and his score for The Russia House, which uses elements of jazz and unconventional Russian sources to create a surprisingly dance-like score for the suspense elements, along with great music for the romantic aspects.

Patrick Doyle’s score or Ang Lee’s ”Sense and Sensibility”

John Williams’s score for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

May 31, 2007 at 11:43 PM · The cello solo in 'Zorba the Greek', when Zorba and the Englishman are at Madame Hortense's, and she's cooked them all a "Turkish" for dinner. Melts my heart!

Another great Star Wars moment: the 'story so far' bit has just faded off into the starfield of Star Wars IV (the original), camera floats downwards to reveal the arching surface of Tatooine, just before the first laser bursts, and you hear this little piccolo solo. I always listened for that piccolo.

Indiana Jones: great use of the double bass by John Williams at the start of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', when they're just approaching the temple in the forest, and things are starting to get a bit creepy.

PS Hey I just got my speakers to work. That scene on the beach in 'Chariots of Fire': that's all the violinist.com guys going for a run together. If you look carefully you can see Buri, Sandy, all of 'em.

May 31, 2007 at 11:42 PM · It's hardly obscure, but that part in Casablanca where Victor László leads Rick's band in La Marseillaise to drown out the Nazi anthem always sends chills all up and down my spine. Vive la France!!

Also the scene in The Pianist where Wladyslaw Szpilman plays the Chopin G minor Ballade in the bombed-out house for the German soldier, also the earlier scene where Szpilman walks out into the desolate ruins of Warsaw to the strains of the "Moonlight Sonata"--chills up and down the spine, again.

June 1, 2007 at 12:07 AM · I also love the very end of 'To Have and Have Not', and Bacall walks out of the bar, smiling and swinging her hips. Does it to me every time. The band (Hoagy Carmicheal at the piano) is playing an upbeat number and a guy is doing a great job on a jazzy tin whistle.

Ron, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I love those Mel Blanc cartoons, too, especially the ones you mentioned. I would argue that those cartoons are, indeed, an 'inspiration'.

June 1, 2007 at 01:30 AM · Mr O'Brian:

Thanks for the note. Now that you mention, I do recall that cello in Zorba. Fabulous. Zorba was a great movie, for many reasons. In days past, we had screen icons. My 2 favourites for drama are Bridge on River Quai with Alec Guiness, and A Christmas Carol with Alistair Simm (black and white). Peter Sellers remains tops for comedy, and the Pink Panther theme was ok too. Chaplin was a genius, all the more so when I consider the primitive technology he had. I know all the greats enjoyed classical music immensely. But I digress.

Fortunately for us all, there are so many musical+art moments. I don't know how to choose. My memory is coming back after reading these posts.

I recall the movie, Fiddler on the Roof, for many reasons of which 2 primary ones are:

1. The folk dance scene done by what are depicted as Russians, but the dance is actually of Ukrainian genre - the one where the men squat while they fling out their legs. This dancing always impresses me immensely for the combination of physicality, fluidity, costumes, and music. In my last city in Canada, Regina, exists an Ukrainian dance group who perform their dances on stage at the annual cultural fest. The fest attracts people worldwide, and the large theatre is always SRO. The music is live, and though the dance routine does not vary much between the years, the audience jump to their feet with wild clapping and loud cries of bravo when the dance is done. It is a spectacular dance event to behold. The movie does a good job capturing some of the excitement of such dance and music.

2. The haunting theme, played by Stern, on what I believe was his DelGesu. What impressed me then and now, was the sound of that violin. It is unmistakable, especially when played solo. I wondered for many years where that violin went, until last year when I acquired a recording by a young player, Capuchon, entitled Le Boeuf. He plays Saint Saens, and the cover states he has Stern's DelGesu. Capuchon is an excellent violinist, and the tone he draws from that DelGesu with his virtuosity is simply fabulous. I would say no other violin could make that tone, and for me the recording is inspirational. Thankfully, we have such a virtuoso, and better technology than ever before to capture that sound (though no technology yet can capture the mystique and sound quality of a live performance).

I hope this thread becomes very large, as I hope to watch all movies that may be noted.

June 1, 2007 at 10:09 AM · The Eton Boating Song on North West Frontier. You probably have to be British and over 50.

June 1, 2007 at 11:07 AM · I love movie music..

but ofcourse there are some sountracks that are really special. The lord of the rings had really great music in it and so did the latest Narnia film... the song from romeo and juliet, kissing you.. with the violins!

What is it with violins??? they can litterally take my breath away anytime in any song.

And to think that most of us here get to play that wonderful instrument, it's truly Gods grace!

Not to forget the violists and cellists!

June 1, 2007 at 03:17 PM · Barber’s Adagio used in Platoon haunts me.

I wanted to learn to dance when I heard “THE” tango in Scent of a Woman.

Then there is an all time great: Nelson Eddie serenading his love, while in a canoe, in a perfectly pressed red-dress RCMP outfit, out in the Yukon, “Rosemarie, I love you.” I get a kick out of that scene and know it influenced my choice of favorite cartoon show. However, Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties never came up to level of Bugs. (see Ron’s email above) BTW, another great song came out of that movie and is probably better remembered, “I am Calling You.” A second example of opera/opera singers brought to the common man.

Fiddler has no boundaries. East of Edmonton Alberta is a Ukrainian living history site. If you close your eyes, when you’re there, you can hear Stern play because you feel like you’re experiencing Anatevka.

June 1, 2007 at 04:47 PM · A favorite moment is in the movie "Carnegie Hall", when Heifetz puts his hand on the woman's chin and says: "But, Nora.....You ARE Carnegie Hall!"..............and in the movie "They Shall Have Music" when Heifetz says (after the boy faints) "Somebody call a doctor quickly!" Both examples of not so good acting! It's reassuring to know that there was *something* at which he wasn't perfect!

June 2, 2007 at 01:48 AM · LOL!!!

Does anyone remember this one? (It's fairly recent, so remembering it shouldn't make you feel old)...

During Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in the scene where they're showing the yellow construction fleet covering the surface of the Earth, they do the BUM------BUM-----BUMBUM----BUMBUMBUM---- thing, where they zoom out a lot and play a loud note in unison...this goes on for about thirty seconds, causing a huge laughing attack any time we (as musicians) watch the movie at my house!

June 3, 2007 at 09:27 AM · I happen to like "twinkle twinkle" in The Family Man. But then, I just really like the movie!


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