This entry was posted on
Thursday, May 13th, 2021 at
2:00 pm and is filed
I’m an old-school pop DJ with a fixation on the 20th century. During lockdown I’ve been keeping my mind busy by programming new pop soundtracks to existing films. My rules are very simple: complete tracks, back to back – NO edits.
I do NOT alter the original visual work and its pacing AT ALL, because the challenge is to find JUST the right songs so they fit scenes not only for mood, theme, and time, but crucially also for individual ‘beats’ and moments within those scenes. And, of course, all of those songs have to flow together as if they are a logical playlist.
I made Die Hard (1988) into a proper Christmas film by adding 40 songs about Christmas. I populated War Games (1983) with songs from that era about computer technology and nuclear war. I made a soundtrack for Dog Day Afternoon (1972) formed from songs that would have been playing on the radio at the time of the actual botched robbery that this film is based on. I took Logan’s Run (1979) and filled it with songs from the post-war B-movie era and can reliably report that you cannot polish a turd, but glitter will do the job every time.
Now, as a respectful nod to Giorgio Moroder (who did similar work on 1927’s ‘Metropolis’ in the 80s) I have chosen songs mostly from the 80s for my first work on a silent film: ‘Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans’.
The following four clips will reveal much about the premise and some detail about the story, but it will not ruin the film or its ending, and you are welcome.
In ‘Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans’ a married farmer is convinced to murder his wife by his lover, a woman from the city. He rows his wife out into the water with the intention of drowning her, but comes to his senses at the last moment. His redemption arc begins there, as the farmer travels to the city with his wife, who is now terrified of him.
This film has some stunning fantasy sequences that it is rightly famous for, and you will note the different movements within songs announce these changes as if they were mapped out that way. The artists I have selected for my mix are ABC, Tina Arena*, Peabo Bryson, Chicago, Phil Collins, Crowded House, Culture Club, Neil Diamond, Duran Duran, Corey Hart, Hootie & The Blowfish*, Greg Kihn, Level 42, Madonna, Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes, Sheila E, Toto, Terence Trent D’Arby, Kim Wilde and Wham.
(*I did say quite specifically a ‘MOSTLY from the 80s’.)
When silent films were originally shown in the cinema, an orchestra would play music designed to enhance the viewing experience. It was this art form that led us to the modern score and a similar approach using existing songs giving us pop songs in movies, musical montages and music-rich ‘soundtrack’ movies like American Graffiti and The Big Chill and Forrest Gump and Footloose and The Lost Boys and I could go on.
What I have sought to do in Sunrise is fulfil the original role of the orchestra in a silent cinema by doing my best work as a DJ; to choose the right tracks for the right moments. To match the mood as much as the action, and help the audience feel those feels.
I’ve published four clips in this thread on Twitter, and you are invited to join me there and/or contact https://www.bloggerheads.com/contact/me directly if you have any comments or questions about the finished work.