5 June 2014
The movie “The Departed” draws on its setting more than most movies I have yet to see. A star-studded cast including Leonardo Dicaprio and Matt Damon all suddenly have unmistakable New England accents. The Irish culture of Boston is portrayed very vividly in this film, as it shows different ethnic gangs competing for power within the city. One would be hard-pressed to find a more “Irish” city in America than Boston and if anyone knows an Irish New Englander-they are very proud of this fact. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that music from the Irish-American rock band based out of Boston, “The Dropkick Murphys” is featured in one of the films most prominent scenes. Since its release in 2005, their hit song “I’m shipping up to Boston” has become a regular part of the soundtracks played at Boston Red Sox games due to it’s tribute to the city and its Irish culture. The songs lyrics talk of the hardships sailors have when shipping up to Boston and is a mix of traditional Irish bagpipes and more modern punk-rock sounds. It’s catchy, it’s Irish, and it’s very Boston. In short, it is something you can count on hearing at an Irish pub or if you are out and about on St. Patrick’s Day. When acclaimed director Martin Scorsese was asked about the Irish-Boston cultural aspect of the film, he responded by saying that his very unique culture is “a way of life, a way of thinking, an attitude, a cultural look at the world, really, a very, very enclosed society, and that's what I responded to, I think.” Scorsese responded perfectly to this culture by adding accents, settings and music that fits the Boston way of life.
Although “The Departed” is a highly rated action movie, much of the plot is slow to build and relies on dialogue, not action. Therefore, this popular, upbeat song fits perfectly in a scene where gangsters are speeding along the Massachusetts turnpike preparing for a final showdown. After multiple scenes of watching police meetings and gangster preparations, this is finally the time for action. So, cue the loud Irish/American rock music! This careful and excellent selection of music is sure to stir the emotions of most viewers. According to Lundsford and Ruskiewicz, “In fact, the stirrings they generate are often physical. You’ve likely had that clichéd ‘chill down the spine’ or felt something in the pit of the stomach when a speaker hits precisely the right note” (Lundsford and Ruszkiewicz 40). This is the exact feeling a received when watching this scene due mostly to the music, which perfectly complemented the scene and dialogue. Nearly all successful movies have a moment such as this that will appeal to the pathos of the audience. In terms of the context of this movie, this scene and it’s music could not have come at a better time and could not have done a better job fitting the theme and setting of the movie all while drawing strong emotions from the audience. Three directors cuts for this soundtrack!