Music is known as the universal language. It can communicate certain messages and emotions to any wide variety of cultures. Hans Zimmer composed the music used in the film Sherlock Holmes. This film is very unique and intriguing already, and its music works effectively to communicate certain moods, emotions, and work together with the action on screen. The film is about detective Sherlock Holmes, and his partner Watson, who must stop their nemesis with wits and physical strength, in order to protect the people of England. “I Never Woke Up With Handcuffs Before” is a song employed in the first 35 minutes of the film. The scene that the music accompanies shows a disguised Holmes in desperate pursuit of Irene in order to gain back the advantage after she set him up. The music plays a pivotal role in this scene as it acts in several different ways. The music acts as a cue, establishes a mood, and gives insight on the main character.
The beginning of this scene starts off slow paced. There are loud noises made by Holmes trying to follow Irene, but it isn’t extremely demanding of your attention just yet. When the two men with bad intentions confront Irene in the alley, the action is seconds away from heightening. As soon a she pulls out her blade and hits the man behind her on the head with the handle the music comes in. It cues in the action and this music carries out through the rest of the sequence. This music shows not only that there will be a different, but heightened pace throughout the rest of the scene. This directly affects our pathos because our emotions are now being manipulated and pushed towards a more upbeat and anxious mood.
Since this song is used a musical cue, it follows by acting as a mood establisher. This new mood of anxiety is made possible due to the use of certain instruments Zimmer used. Music as a Source of Emotion In Film, by Annabel J Cohen, talks about how “music provides an important source of emotion in film” (Cohen 251). This song heavily relies on stringed instruments, hand drums, and the tuba. The music is very complex, in that a few seconds later; it provides another mood. This mood has an exotic carnival-like feel to it and it makes sense with what is on screen. Holmes goes through an outdoor circus with numerous acts being performed around him in an attempt to catch up to Irene. This appeals to our pathos because we are now aware of this quirky and foreign vibe that is being presented on screen. The images we see on screen along with the up-tempo music taps into our emotions and it draws us closer into Holmes as a character.
Thirdly this song does a great job at giving us insight on the character. The role of music communication in cinema, by Scott D. Lipscomb and David E. Tolchinsky talks about the use of music to convey character. It talks about how “rather than just associating a character with a particular theme, a director can choose to define a character by sound, musical or non-musical” (Lipscomb and Tolchinsky pg. 16). Hans Zimmer decided to do this musically with this scene. Now keep in mind that the scene occurs within the first 35 minutes of the film. Due to this, the audience is still learning things about Sherlock Holmes. We know by now that he is eccentric and very cunning. The music paired with the action on screen help affirm his eccentricities and let us know that he is outgoing and very improvisational. Using this music for this scene let’s us know that his unique individuality is one of the most important traits of his personality.
Overall the music does a great job in this particular scene but also throughout the entire film. It establishes moods, cues certain action sequences, and brings a better perspective on the characters. Since it hits hard on all these areas I am going to give it 3 Tickets for a job well done.