Don’t You (Forget About The Breakfast Club)
Don’t You (Forget About The Breakfast Club)
A Rachel L'Antigua Critique
Music, much like any other form of art, is capable of portraying the deepest of emotions. Music is able to capture beauty, distress, longing, and fear. Perhaps the reason that directors spend such a great deal of time orchestrating the soundtracks for their films is that they know their viewers will subconsciously demand to be emotionally moved from scene to scene through the guidance of music. While film soundtracks might seem to play second fiddle to the main visual attraction; just ask any film goer or critic, “Could this film survive without music?”. For almost every film, the answer to that question would be a resounding “no”. This answer would be no different for The Breakfast Club; indeed, this John Hughes classic would not have become the renowned film it is, apart from its soundtrack.
While studying the use of music within the Breakfast Club I decided to focus primarily on the music used in two scenes; the marijuana smoking scene and the ending scene. Not only are these two of America’s favorite scenes from the film, but they also happen to be prime examples of the appeal made through the use of soundtracks.
As a brief refresher for those of us who have not seen The Breakfast Club in a while (if you’ve never seen it then shame on you!), up until the marijuana smoking scene, the five characters (lets’ just call them Brain, Athlete, Basket Case, Princess, and Criminal), have been slowly getting to know one another during their day-long detention. Tension has been rising and feelings have reached a crescendo when the students decide to smoke marijuana together. The smoking scene could arguably be thought of as the turning point of the movie; the point where the separate students start to consider each other as friends. This scene would not have been half as emotionally exciting without the music. Here, just take a listen for yourself:
The instrumental, “I’m The Dude”, by Keith Forsey wonderfully captures the angst, tension, and thick feelings that the characters have been feeling up until this point in the movie. The track captures the high anxiety and the simultaneous calm that the characters are experiencing. When watching this scene, I decided to put it on mute to see what it would be like without the music (sidenote: please don’t do this to yourself); it was truly awful. The scene needs the music otherwise the jock’s actions, such as beating his chest, are completely unfounded and unexplainable. The use of this track shows the use of the pathos appeal; the song appeals to the viewers’ emotions by exciting them through the upbeat song.
The final scene of The Breakfast Club is perhaps one of the best known endings to an American film…well…ever. The song, the goodbyes, the earring, the football field, John Bender’s fist jump...did I mention the song? Without the strategic use of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, the ending would not have left the impact on the film industry that it has. I hesitate to refer to “Don’t You” as belonging to Simple Minds; mostly because the band didn’t write the song, and were not invested in it at all. In fact, the song was written by producer Keith Forsay specifically for The Breakfast Club. The song became a number one hit single because of the popularity thrust upon it by the film. Many would argue that “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” became the anthem of the 80’s. The song did an exemplary job of combining the moods of the film together; tense, anxious, brooding, detached, ironic, somber, hopeful, and melancholy.
The use of both the ethos appeal and the logos appeal can be seen through the use of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” in the final scene. The ethos appeal is apparent because the song is sung by Simple Minds. The logos appeal is obvious because the song lyrics appeal to the viewer’s sense of logic and reasoning. With lines such as “Don’t you forget about me, I won’t forget about you”, the viewer is left with closure about the characters’ interpersonal relationships with one another.
According to the article, Music and Mood, film composers seek to connect the spirit and themes of movies. It is my belief that no movie could exemplify this better than the Breakfast Club. Director, John Hughes, and music producer, Keith Forsay, intricately weave the spirit of longing to be onself, teenage angst, and highschool prejudice together with the themes of anxiety, pressure, hope, and freedom. The film is deserving of nothing less than a 3/3 rating for its stellar use of music as an appeal. The Breakfast Club is a visual and audible masterpiece; and the soundtrack plays second fiddle to nothing else…no pun intended.