Thursday, September 6, 2012

Failure to Launch

Not only does film music cue the beginning and end of a movie with a musical phrase, but it helps portray the plot, mood, setting, and characters. Wagner introduced the idea of total artwork. He combined the visual arts of props and costume with music, singing, and dancing; unifying these with drama. Critically acclaimed film maker, Akira Kurosawa, proclaims that "cinematic sound... Does not simply add to, but multiplies, two or three times, the effect of the image" (p. 201, 1). In the movie, Failure to Launch, Director Tom Dey uses underscore or undiegetic music to accompany the majority of the scenes.
One scene in particular caught my attention. It is at the center of this movie is when Trip (Matthew McConaughey) realizes that Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) has been paid by his own parents to date him in the hopes he will move out of their home and into one of his own. Since the movie, in general, is light-hearted and funny, this scene causes a shift in the mood. The song that begins to play in the background is "Forget My Heart" by Simon Steadman. The line that caught my attention is "I don't know, where to go, nothing is clear to me, how could I be so blind, I'm done with wasting my time." I think this is an appropriate song for the feelings portrayed on screen. The relationship between Trip and Paula which began as a simple business deal, however, turns into a steamy connection. Neither Trip nor Paula know what their next step will be. The plot is at a climax and both characters are feeling mixed emotions. In the book, “Everythings an Argument,” Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz say, “When writers and speakers find the words and images that evoke certain emotions in people, they might also move their audience to sympathize with ideas that they connect to those feelings and even act on them” (p.41, 1). The sound of the rain in the scene is also a great enhancement to the atmosphere. Rain is associated with gloominess. This is a sad time for Trip because he feels that the most important people in his life have betrayed him.
"Whether it was a single note on the piano being played repeatedly or a set of strings giving off one continuous tone, Mansell did not mind having moments where it felt like the track is on repeat" (p. A22, 1). During this scene the chorus is playing several times; adding to Trip's feeling of "How could I be so blind." This expresses his inner feeling of embarrassment towards the entire set up.  The audience has a sense of sympathy for this grown man who is sitting outside with a little boy asking him for advice after everyone else he cares about seems to have turned on him. The rain and music together help move the plot along. The use of dissonant sounding instruments in this particular song helps the audience relate to the character's inner emotions of agony and anger. It also evokes emotions of pity in the audience. Therefore, film music in this case is for emotional appeal, or pathos.
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