Film Score Monthly
Search Terms: 
Search Within:   search tips 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
 Posted:   Sep 10, 2008 - 11:35 PM   
 By:   zooba   (Member)

Thinking of, how many people see Film Scores as being "manipulative".

Like when someone says "Oh, here come the strings, I guess I'm supposed to cry here".

Always hate it when I hear people say that film music is manipulative. Jerry Goldsmith in many interviews shared the same agravation. I remember him saying something like. "That's what film music is supposed to do. Evoke your emotion, some people may call it manipulation".

I for one like to go to a movie and have the story and the acting and the music move me and evoke feelings in me.

Did John Williams and Oliver Stone manipulate us in BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY with a heartfelt performance by Tom Cruise and a Passionate and Sad Score?

Are we to feel manipulated when and if Danny Elfman plays a Sad Piano Theme over a Candlelight Vigil March for the slain Mayor of San Francisco and openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk in the upcoming "MILK" Bio Pic?

Why do some find scoring a sad scene "sentimental" or "overly sentimental" Sentimentality is a welcome word and feeling in my life. I want to feel sad and sorry for someone who was murdered or has died for no reason. Why are so many afraid of the word Sentiment?

Music is passionate and sad and uplifting and energizing. I'm sure there are many in the film going audience who would prefer an unscored film to one scored with soppy music. Of course to each is own.

Can anyone share instances when they felt "manipulated" by a film score and didn't like feeling that way or when you felt the music was over the top or inappropriate?

Okay, just my thoughts and feelings. Cue the strings.



 Posted:   Sep 11, 2008 - 7:06 AM   
 By:   David Sones (Allardyce)   (Member)

I actually only feel manipulated by a score when the film is bad. If the film is effective, the music enhances the emotion and it doesn't feel like manipulation. But if the film stinks and you find yourself wandering, a bad scene is 2,000 times worse if it's got over-the-top sap music attached to it (Patch Adams and K-19 come to mind).

Though on occasion, the music is too intense in an otherwise good film. I still think Kamen's score for What Dreams May Come was terribly too strong and forced, and at times it was almost grating and made me squint.

 Posted:   Sep 11, 2008 - 8:11 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

Films (not just the music) & any entertainment manipulate you. If you're aware of it, then it's not being done very well.

 Posted:   Sep 11, 2008 - 8:17 AM   
 By:   Membership Expired   (Member)

Film by it's very essence has to manipulate the viewer to be effective.
The same goes for film music.

Manipulation is not always a bad thing though.

 Posted:   Sep 11, 2008 - 8:21 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

I agree with all of the above. It's the degree or intensity of manipulation of film and score that have to meld. That delicate balance is what makes it an art. It is great when it has been achieved but even the best have missed the target.

 Posted:   Sep 11, 2008 - 8:36 AM   
 By:   Joe Brausam   (Member)

There's a great book about the manipulative qualities of film music, though the name of the book fails me at the moment..

 Posted:   Sep 11, 2008 - 8:39 AM   
 By:   ScoreDude   (Member)

More and more films that I see are little more than landscape/filler material.

 Posted:   Sep 11, 2008 - 8:45 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

We could outright say that claim is, in Joyce Davenport's immortal phrase

"a crock of the well-known article" - and she'd be correct - but we'll try and levitate onto a higher road of reflection.

Since it's a convenient and snobbish accusation hurled across many creative borders, our favorite Art History professor once put that nitwit notion into its proper perspective when he stated that "All art is, by its very nature, ART-IFICIAL."

That being the cumulative and irreversible (let alone incontestable) case: each and every instance of each and every play, film, book, artwork, poem, dance (oh, and music) you ever hear, see or are exposed to is trying to evoke an emotion outta you in whatever//however/whenever and whichever medium is its message.

As that famous philosopher around these here parts bashfully puts it:

... wink

 Posted:   Jul 24, 2013 - 10:17 PM   
 By:   Mike_H   (Member)

[bad day rant] I've had a number of meetings on different projects this week and they all had this in common:

"We don't like music that's manipulative..give us some drones and pads."


"No melodies, just atmospherics."


"Gee, I hate 'cinematic music' with strings, can we just have a tone?"

The endless stream of these directives makes me want to put my fist through a plate glass window. [/bad day rant]

 Posted:   Jul 25, 2013 - 12:31 AM   
 By:   E-Wan   (Member)

I do agree with you absolutely.

It is really sad that in these days music with emotions and strong melody is something bad and unwanted. Sometimes it feels like emotions and melody are two most dirty words in Hollywood and everybody is scared of them like hell.

But I don´t understand why. Is our society so shallow and heartless that most of the population is afraid of emotions and beauty in art? Or is it just dictate of the contemporary entertainment industry executives?

Melody and emotions are the best and strongest benefits that music can give to the listener.
IMHO music without melody and emotions is like food without flavour. It´s tasteless.

 Posted:   Jul 25, 2013 - 1:49 AM   
 By:   Doctor Shatterhand   (Member)

Music in theatrical films whether it be drama or comedy is an important element in the development of the scene. Yes it manipulates but so is acting and camera movement and film directing. The only time I personally feel music should not be used (and it is used frequently in this format) is documentaries or news packages. If an important but polarizing event is shown in the news, some will add music to manipulate a person's opinion - such as a politician's biography during a political campaign. The worse and most effective use of music in any visual medium.

 Posted:   Jul 25, 2013 - 2:14 AM   
 By:   Graham S. Watt   (Member)

I don't think the problem is that it's manipulative - the problem is that people don't like to admit that they like being manipulated.

 Posted:   Jul 25, 2013 - 2:32 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

Of course music is manipulative.

If film music is not supposed to "do something" then why would it exist?

And if it *is* supposed to "do something", what is that thing it's supposed to do?

It's to help the film stimulate your emotions, your intellect and your ability to recognize patterns / connect dots — and it has deliberate intent at doing so.

Notice, I said 'help'. 'Cos, yeah, the film itself is doing the same.

Those people who watch a movie from a "meta" position and chortle about the fact they can see what the film is doing are claiming the "see how clever I am" prize. That's the booby prize. "So when you disengage from the movie you can see what the music is doing? So f***ing what?"


 Posted:   Jul 25, 2013 - 2:35 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

I think where people go wrong with the word "manipulate" is they confuse it with "control" and then get all moral about it.

Music, films, books, etc, all manipulate in that they stimulate your thinking and emotions with deliberate intent.

But that doesn't mean your mind is being "controlled" or that you lack all choice.

Films, music, etc, can be more or less 'leading' about where they want your thinking and emotions to go, but it's all still out to stimiulate with intent.


 Posted:   Jul 25, 2013 - 6:16 AM   
 By:   Jehannum   (Member)

The answer above and its sequel were damn fine, if I may say so.

 Posted:   Jul 25, 2013 - 7:42 AM   
 By:   Last Child   (Member)

Thinking of, how many people see Film Scores as being "manipulative".

I'm relieved to see this isnt a thread bashing online store Moviemusic. wink

I enjoy sentimental movies, even some that are overtly manipulative in eliciting sadness (ie Random Harvest). And a "manipulative" score does not have to accompany a bad movie. The films I find too manipulative push the obvious buttons to get people to cry - typically in the animals or kids genre films. I found Spielberg's ET (both movie and score) way too manipulative and really disliked them. Savior Carebear Starman go home.

I dont mind a tear at the end of KING KONG (1933) but I find the climax of SON OF KONG too manipulative and contrived - you dont know whether to laugh or cry. Perhaps part of the difference is the source of the sentiment: KING is tragic; SON is your pet dog predictably sacrificing himself for you.

 Posted:   Jul 25, 2013 - 8:22 AM   
 By:   Ado   (Member)

The score is there to manipulate you, yeah, that is kinda the point.

I only care about it when the music is working much harder than the film deserves, then I blame the film, not the composer. This happened all the time with Jerry Goldsmith, gracing some really awful films, with excellent scores.

 Posted:   Jul 25, 2013 - 8:49 AM   
 By:   Last Child   (Member)

There are plenty of good scores that outshine average films or overpower good films. They might seem too noticeable but are not necessarily manipulative. I thought zooba was talking specifically about scores that elicit feelings (ie sentiment) that some viewers find much too predictable.

You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2018 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.