The 2004 film Garden State was written and directed by Zach Braff who also stars as Andrew Largeman, the protagonist of the film. Andrew is a wannabe actor whose life is controlled by his medications. He returns home to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral and leaves all his pills behind. He spends his time bumping into old acquaintances and avoiding his father. Andrew is disconnected with the world and emotionally cut off until he meets the character Sam, played by Natalie Portman. Their friendship grows in a romantic way.
Some people would say Garden State is known for its soundtrack above anything else. The 13 songs of the mix were handpicked selections of Zach Braff. This soundtrack aided in pushing “indie” music into the mainstream and started a transition in music culture. The soundtrack went platinum and won a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for a Motion Picture in 2005. A great strength of the soundtrack is how it accompanied the film.
One example of how the music goes along with a scene is when Andrew is at his high school friend’s basement and finds himself being offered an assortment of drugs. As soon as Andrew takes an ecstasy pill, the song “In the Waiting Line” by Zero 7 beings playing. During the scene, the other people are playing spin the bottle and having a great time while Andrew is sitting on the couch trying to make sense of what is going on. The background melody of the song seems to fade in and out. The scene has the same effect where it will go fast and then slow down, especially between going to and from different people. The combination of the music and the scene fading in and out relates to how Andrew is feeling after taking the drug. This relates to pathos because the viewer can get an insight into what he feeling. Music can be used to express what emotions characters are feeling internally (Giannetti). The music stops as the bottle is pointed at Andrew. After he kisses the girl, the same song starts playing again. I believe they made the decision to stop the music for that moment because they thought it was important and it needed to stand out. The lyrics of this song demonstrate logos. It was wise to use this song that had the lyrics, “Everyone’s saying different things to me, different things to me” because in the scene, people are talking to Andrew and he is paying no attention to them.
Another scene where music goes along with it is the ending scene at the airport. Andrew is telling Sam that he has to go home to get better or else their relationship will never work. The song “Let Go” by Frou Frou starts playing as Zach steps on the escalator. The first thing that I noticed is that the lyrics also went along with the scene. The title of this song is “Let Go” and this line is repeated many times. It is logoicial for this scene to have this song playing because Sam is saying bye to Zach so she in a sense has to let go. Music with lyrics that relate to the scene make it more powerful and have a more concrete context (Giannetti 211). At the start of this scene I would say the song gave me a false sense of emotions, or pathos, because it was sad that he was leaving. Sam was crying telephone booth, which didn’t go along not so somber song. Although you would think that the song that should be played during this scene should be slower with more sad tones, this song works well because they actually don’t say bye. Perhaps this was done for foreshadowing, which would relate to logos.
I would give this film 3 out of 5 pickles. I thought this film did a great job of demonstrating pathos and logos which the choices of the songs. What the music and scene combinations lacked was ethos. Overall, the way the songs in the film served the scenes enriched viewers watching experience.