Monday, September 15, 2014

Soundtrack to Indie's Life

Soundtrack to Indie's Life

Last week in class when we listened to movie soundtracks and tried to guess what movie they appeared in, almost everyone guessed correctly on the Indiana Jones song. This soundtrack has become an iconic symbol for the well-loved action series. There’s a reason that we immediately associate these songs with Indiana Jones- the soundtrack plays a crucial role in creating the sense of action and adventure in the film. According to filmmaker Akira Durosawa, “cinematic sound... Does not simply add to, but multiplies, two or three times, the effect of the image” (Giannetti, 201). To demonstrate the effect of music in movies, I’m going to examine a few scenes of Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark in which music plays a large role in setting the mood of the scene. 

The first major scene in which the soundtrack is used to make an emotional impact in this film is the scene when Indiana is making his first getaway from a large group of tribal warriors chasing him down and showering him with arrows. Although this scene consists of one main action: Indiana’s escape, the music shifts several times throughout the scene to transition the tone. 

While Indiana is running down the hill away from the tribe, the music is comical. Although he is in a potentially life-threatening situation, the music portrays Indiana’s predicament in a satirical light. Instead of seeing Indie running for his life, we view him as racing down a hill, stumbling and clinging to his hat with a bunch of bare-butted warriors chasing after him. Understanding Movies states that “music can also provide an ironic contrast. In many cases, the predominant mood of a scene can be neutralized or even reversed with contrasting music” (Giannetti, 214). However, as Indie draws closer to the river, the music switches to a dangerous, ominous tone. All of a sudden we realize the arrows are getting really close and if Indie trips, he’s not going to make it. By the time  he reaches the getaway plane, the music shifts yet again. This time, it switches to the iconic Indiana Jones song which signifies success and victory. 

Out of the three modes of persuasion, music dwells mostly under the realm of pathos. With each switch of mood in the music, you feel differently about Indie’s situation. At first you find it comical, then suspenseful, then relieving. In addition, since this soundtrack is original to Indiana Jones, we build a connection between the music and the movie. Even when you hear the song in an outside context, you associate it with the emotions you had while watching the movie. Often, hearing the songs makes you crave watching the movie. 

Because the Indiana Jones soundtrack has become so well known, it holds an element of ethos. People associate the songs with a good, action-packed film. This means that the songs can be used for advertising, and they will add value to the products they are associated with. 

The scene that I chose from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark demonstrates how both logos and the lack of logos can be used to make an impact with the soundtrack. When Indie is running away and the music is used for comic relief, the music doesn’t fit the situation. This lack of logos is what provides the comical nature. In contrast, when the song transitions to a more ominous tone, the music matches the mood and creates a sense of danger. Music also helps to direct your emotions when you aren’t sure how to feel about a scene. When Indie first jumps onto the plane, we know he’s safe because the song switches over to his classic getaway song. 

As Understanding Movies states, “Music must never serve merely as accompaniment: It ought to retain it’s own integrity” (Giannetti, 212). This certainly rings true for the soundtrack of Indiana Jones, so I give it five pickles. Not only does it add elements of ethos, pathos, and logos to the film, but the songs also exist as a separate form of the film’s success. 

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