Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Silence and Noise

           The Virgin Suicides, directed by Sofia Coppola, documents the tragic lives of the Lisbon sisters. With strict, religious parents determined to keep them on the straight and narrow, the girls remained secluded in their home and, eventually, took drastic measures to escape by committing suicide one after another.  Four young boys obsessed with the Lisbon sisters tell the story. The film is relatively silent in terms of music, highlighting the emptiness the girls feel, and the rules their mother has against popular music. However, when music is used, it is highly intentional and extremely complimentary to the scene.
            One of the most obvious examples of this is when Trip, a teenager hopelessly in love with Lux Lisbon, the rebellious sister, returns to his car after a very formal, uncomfortable visit to the Lisbon house. He sits in his car, dejected after failing to get a kiss from Lux at the door, and the song “Crazy on You” by Heart begins to play. The song begins slow and soft; Trip rests his head against his seat, looking defeated, until Lux opens the door and the classic guitar riff begins to play. Lux and Trip passionately kiss in the car, which reflects the theme of the song well. “Crazy on You” is about feeling trapped and wanting to lose yourself in another’s touch. It’s a song about rebellion and secret lust, which is precisely what this scene depicts. Lux is a girl trapped in a home and a family that doesn’t allow her to be herself, and in going to see Trip, she finds an outlet to express her deepest desires. I feel that this song was a perfect fit for the scene. It has a rough, rebellious feel to it, complementing the sudden appearance of Lux at the door and the quick act. In addition, the lyrics are able to accurately describe how Lux and Trip feel, furthering the effectiveness of the song.
            Although the scene in the car utilized music flawlessly, perhaps the most meaningful scene with music comes when the four boys call the Lisbon girls on the phone. Rather than talking, they communicate through songs. The boys play “Hello It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren when the girls answer, an appropriate song for an introduction. The Lisbon girls respond with the song “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan, a song about feeling lost and alone, which is exactly how the sisters were feeling. The boys come back with the song “Run to Me” by the Bee Gees, implying that they want to be there for the girls to pick up the pieces of their broken lives, knowing how much they suffer behind closed doors. The final song that plays is “So Far Away” by Carole King, which is a direct response to “Run to Me.” In playing this, the girls are essentially saying that although the boys want to help, they’re still out of reach. I find this scene to be particularly meaningful because they communicate exclusively through song the feelings that they can’t communicate in any other way. This scene is a perfect representation of using song to relay emotions and set the tone for a scene.

            Overall, I feel that although the film did not use much background music, it did a fantastic job of using music selectively to represent emotions and themes. While I only listed two examples from the film, I found that whenever music played in a scene, it was very deliberate and worked to direct the viewer’s interpretation of the content. I would give this film 5 pickles, as nothing about the music felt random or out of place, and even the lack of music in some scenes helped to enhance the motifs of sadness and emptiness that drove the film.

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