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 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 2:21 PM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Never seen the film and never will. But on the subject I really don't like this tactic. It comes off awkward, forced and disingenuous. It's no more effective than using scary music for a beautiful sunset.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 3:16 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Interesting point of view, solium, but I'm just the opposite. For me this "tactic" doesn't really seem forced. I think beautiful music backing horror or violence tends to heighten, enhance or intensify. That is just my opinion. You bring up beautiful sunsets and scary music which is a new take on juxtaposing music and visuals. Yeah it wouldn't work unless...slowly a mushroom cloud is seen in the horizon, kind of a statement on a lovely planet given to man which man destroys. That may have been done in some movies.

 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 3:38 PM   
 By:   Advise & Consent   (Member)

Interesting point of view, solium, but I'm just the opposite. For me this "tactic" doesn't really seem forced. I think beautiful music backing horror or violence tends to heighten, enhance or intensify. That is just my opinion. You bring up beautiful sunsets and scary music which is a new take on juxtaposing music and visuals. Yeah it wouldn't work unless...slowly a mushroom cloud is seen in the horizon, kind of a statement on a lovely planet given to man which man destroys. That may have been done in some movies.

Agreed. Although not quite in that vein, the use of a song to underscore the mushroom clouds in Doctor Strangelove is a perfect example of musical irony, because we all know that we won't 'meet again'.

 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 3:54 PM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Interesting point of view, solium, but I'm just the opposite. For me this "tactic" doesn't really seem forced. I think beautiful music backing horror or violence tends to heighten, enhance or intensify. That is just my opinion. You bring up beautiful sunsets and scary music which is a new take on juxtaposing music and visuals. Yeah it wouldn't work unless...slowly a mushroom cloud is seen in the horizon, kind of a statement on a lovely planet given to man which man destroys. That may have been done in some movies.

It's just an over used idea that feels lame to me nowadays. When ever a director wants to be ironic this is the approach they take musically. Such a technique was just used recently in the Sci Fi series Helix. The most bizarre use was in A Clockwork Orange where Singing in the Rain was the underscore during a rape scene.

Not a musical example, but I feel the same with the camera trick where they zoom in while pulling the camera backwards. Cleverly used in Vertigo, reused in Jaws, but done to death ever since.

 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 5:24 PM   
 By:   Josh   (Member)

The opening sequence of Cannibal Holocaust features Ortolani's lush main theme accompanying point-of-view shots of flying over the South American rainforest, which is very beautiful indeed. On the other hand, the scenes of violence were scored with harsh, atonal strings and dark synthesizer grooves. So far, the music is more or less in sync with the tone of the scenes.

However, when that gorgeous theme kicks in again during the end credits, after the intense scenes of unspeakable horror and gore that the viewer had just witnessed, it creates an unsettling juxtaposition that confuses the viewer's emotions. That same gorgeous music suddenly takes on an air of menace and evil. That's film music irony at its best.

 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 9:01 PM   
 By:   Zoragoth   (Member)

I’m thinking of the Jeff Bridges movie FEARLESS. During the horrific plane crash where people are being sucked out of the plane, the director has the scene underscored with a lovely rather classical piece of music. (The title evades me right now.)There is no action music or horror music, just this lovely classical piece. Does such contrast intensify the horror and fear? I think it does because what I’m hearing AND seeing do not synch together.

I haven't seen FEARLESS since it was in the theaters, but the example you mention is quite striking and very powerful and memorable. As I recall it was scored with an excerpt from Gorecki's 3rd Symphony, which just years before had, somewhat inexplicably, become a surprising mainstream hit, selling many, many copies. I say inexplicably because such sales in the classical line were very unusual, especially given it was a work (however powerful and memorable) by a composer who had not otherwise made an impression in the West.

As for CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, I've been tempted to buy the score, but despite Ortolani's participation have hesitated on account of the film's subject matter, and the treatment of animals in the film.

As an aside, I've long wanted to see Bertolucci's 1900, but its depictions of animal slaughter has to date discouraged me from going near this film, its considerable virtues notwithstanding.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 10:22 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Thanks for more insight, Josh. The irony in Ortolani's score makes an indelible imprint or maybe a scar in the brain and heart.

I'm glad to see two songs mentioned. Certainly the song in Dr. Strangelove works on many level, and we won't be seeing anybody. It was comedy at its very blackness. Singing In the Rain during the rape in Clockwork Orange finally made me leave. I couldn't watch the whole movie; it was just too repulsive for my taste. I understand, solium, why you may not like the use of music for irony. I really do. For me, most cases work. You mentioned it was used too often, and I respectfully disagree. We have listed maybe 10-14 scores on this topic who employ music as irony. I think 99 percent of our film scores are straight forward with their music. Love themes for a love scene, action music for a car race. In other words, I think a huge percentage of movie scores synch with the scenes. I seem to find juxtaposing music and scenes rather rare and unique. (and hopefully purposeful.)

Yes, I too am pretty sure Gorecki's Third Symphoney was in Fearless and it was effective and rather shocking and stunning. (It sure wasn't Jarre's score.)

I appreciate you all who have shared new information

 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2014 - 11:11 PM   
 By:   Ray Worley   (Member)

Interesting topic and some good insight. I don't know how much of a conscious effort was made by Ortolani to contrast his lovely themes with the horror in CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, or if it was the director's choice, or some other factor.
One thing that strikes me is that Riz Ortolani seems almost incapable of not writing beautiful melodies in all his scores. (At least every one I've heard). It is almost a trade-mark...you can recognize Ortolani from the gorgeous, luscious melody. From the very first score to be in my ken: MONDO CANE, this was present. And it too, contrasts with the subject matter of the film.
Even his Westerns, at least the ones I've heard, may have a catchy, more dramatic main title, but will invariably have a secondary "pretty" theme.

I've got a couple of his peplum scores and they are generally not as martial-sounding as his contemporaries and again, with a strong melodic theme in there somewhere.

He was a master melodist and perhaps directors/producers sought him out when they wanted this juxtaposition...or when they definitely wanted "pretty" right up front, like WOMAN TIMES SEVEN.

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 7:24 AM   
 By:   Mike Skerritt   (Member)

[Note: Had to edit this for clarity because I mixed the scenes up in my head a bit.]

There's actually another much more recent example involving the work of Ortolani, which also happens to go back to another Mondo film he scored. The track is "Oh My Love," a soaring, beautiful song with a vocal by Katanya Ranieri.

The recent film is DRIVE, and I can't really discuss this without venturing into spoiler territory but I'll try. The short version is that the Driver (Ryan Gosling) has reached the point where he's spiritually broken. The gangsters he's crossed in trying to help a woman (Carey Mulligan) and her young son have essentially taken away from him the only thing he really cares about. So he goes on a spectacularly violent rampage against the "bad guys," and it's set to this song (linked below). When I say "spectacularly violent" I mean truly fetishistic, and that's part of Refn's aim as the director.

The cue works brilliantly in the sequence not only as a counterpoint to the darkness on-screen, but because it speaks directly to the Driver's arc in the film, which is basically his awakening as a feeling human being (a question suggested by the film is whether he is, in fact, capable of being a feeling human being, or a psychopath). So while we watch him reach the bottom, at the same time the song lyrically reflects both man's inherent darkness and its capacity for redemption. Despite what he's doing, the use of the song suggests there may, for the first time in his life, be a hopeful future for him.

I'd hate to link to the clip of the film because it's best viewed in context, but here's the song:



Its use in DRIVE is a needledrop of course, and not quite the same thing as Ortolani scoring against a picture, but the funny thing is that when Ortolani originally wrote it, he was scoring against a picture, the infamous ADDIO ZIO TOM. Like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, ADDIO was an Italian Mondo film made in a pseudo-documentary format, this one concerning the horrors of slavery. This probably isn't the thread for a discussion about the politics, intentions and controversy surrounding ADDIO ZIO TOM, but suffice to say, it's an incredibly brutal experience and Ortolani's score is used much the same way as in CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.

Here's the theme without vocals:



I mean, it's gorgeous.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 7:54 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Good things to learn from Ray and Mike. Yes, Ray, I am learning that this composer seemed to always write some lovely melody somewhere in his films. HIs choice or his directors choice? Not sure we will ever know. Mike, I have not seen Drive, but the song and instrumental for "Oh My Love," is just gorgeous. Wow, just wow!

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 8:43 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

That is indeed a real beautiful, beautiful song and as I said earlier and stated again here by another.RIZ was such a great melody man. You hire the guy to write music, no matter what the film is, most likely somewhere out will come a pretty ballad. if he scored PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE they would get a place to put the pretty melody. yes filmmaking can indeed be artistic at times , at times it becomes a money game to sell itself to the public. sometimes too much examination of film get's a bit silly.We all know those critics who go overboard and try to tell others what the directors were trying to say but it was really something the critic dream in his own head.Riz was a great melodic composer which filmmaker's used for their own advantage. I think it is best to leave it at that. don't get me wrong I can enjoy underdog films and will defend them at times, but I think we might sometimes take things a bit to far.

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2014 - 9:10 PM   
 By:   Mike Skerritt   (Member)

Mike, I have not seen Drive, but the song and instrumental for "Oh My Love," is just gorgeous. Wow, just wow!

I agree! DRIVE isn't the kind of movie I'd recommend to everyone because it's so specific, but I think it's brilliant. GREAT mix of songs and score, too. Not just the Ortolani.

 
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