Movies would not be near as persuasive without the help of amazing songs that are specially selected for the movie. Music has the power to move the viewer to tears, jump in their seat, laugh out loud or foreshadow events, and maybe even a combination of these. When thinking about how music affects a scene, the first scene I instantly thought of was from the 2011 remake of the movie Footloose. The specific scene is when Ariel is going through her rebellious phase, about to lose her virginity to a guy who doesn’t respect her. The song playing is “Holding Out For A Hero” by Ella Mae Bowen. The song plays again later on in the movie, creating a full circle ending.
When looking at this scene, this song proves to be very important on a couple different levels. First, it allows the viewer to connect emotionally with the main character, Ariel. It provides them with the sense that this guy isn’t the guy she ends up with. This is made apparent with the lyrics “Where have all the good men gone, and where are all the gods.” With this, we know that Ariel’s character does not actually love this man, and is just acting out of rebellion. Knowing this, readers feel for Ariel’s struggle and can even relate to her. According to Everything’s An Argument, emotionally connecting with viewers is a crucial element: “You may sometimes want to use emotions to connect with readers to assure them that you understand their experiences. Such a bridge is especially important when you’re writing about matters that readers regard as sensitive.” (Lunsford p. 33). The song itself is very innocent, which contrasts greatly with the current state Ariel is in. This contrast causes the viewer to look at Ariel for who she is, which is a young girl not sure of her actions. Therefore, there is a major shift in the tone once it becomes apparent that she isn’t as happy with her choice to give it all to someone who clearly doesn’t deserve it.
The song also has a logical placement as well. While the song plays, there are flashes of Wren working on his car. The lyrics, “Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed,” play when the scene goes to a close up of his face, implying that he is the right guy for Ariel, even if the two characters barely know each other. With the use of this song, the foreshadowing is obvious to the viewer as to what will happen. Understanding Movies explains that music is commonly used to foreshadow, “Music can be used as foreshadowing, especially when the dramatic context doesn’t permit a director to prepare an audience for an event. When actors are required to assume restrained or neutral expressions, music can suggest their internal- hidden- emotions.” (Giannetti p.16). Without the use of the song, the viewer would possibly think that Ariel is happy to be with the man she is with, and Wren is the only one that is lonely. Our logic suggests that there has to be a connection between Ariel and Wren, even if we have no other evidence.
A full circle ending is put in place when the song plays again during a very sentimental scene between Ariel and her father. Throughout the movie, there was strong tension surrounding the two characters. Ariel blamed her father for the rules he put into place, when really the rules were only to protect her. The scene with her father starts when she walks into his study, ready for the dance. At this moment, the song begins to play again. By having the song play here as well, it suggests that her dad is also one of her “heroes.” The song continues to play when Wren comes to pick her up, as the foreshadowing predicted. To me, it is very fitting that the same song that played when she made a decision out of the brokenness in her heart played again when it becomes whole.