When a poet as gifted as Amy Newman asks you a question, you answer it.
Few people would be qualified to choose the “best use of music in a movie.” I’m certainly not. Neither are any of us, probably. There are just too many movies, too many pieces of music.
But we are qualified to share our favorites. And I’m likely to go on amending this list as I go on thinking about it.
I want to hear from all of you. Don’t just name your favorite soundtrack. Name a moment or a scene in which the fusion of imagery and music elevated the experience into something amazing. It could be dramatic or hilarious or mysterious or bizarre. What’s a moment in which the music transformed the image, and the image transformed the music?
Here are just a few moments in movies in which music and imagery have fused most memorably for me:
- Three Colors: Blue — The concert for the reunification of Europe (Zbigniew Preisner)
- Three Colors: Blue — The visitations of the blue muse, especially the time that Julie tries to escape by immersing herself in the swimming pool and the music follows her down. (Zbigniew Preisner)
- The Double Life of Veronique — Veronika’s last performance (Zbigniew Preisner)
- Raising Arizona — The prologue, “Way Out There” (Carter Burwell)
- The Hudsucker Proxy — Discovery of the hula hoop (Carter Burwell, with a little help from Igor Stravinsky)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey — Just about any musical moment.
- The Grand Budapest Hotel — The flight to the monastery by chairlift (Alexandre Desplat)
- Punch-drunk Love — “He Needs Me” (Shelley Duvall)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark — “The Map Room” (John Williams)
- Magnolia — “Wise Up” (Aimee Mann)
- Almost Famous — “Tiny Dancer” (Elton John)
- Midnight Run — The piano blues of Jack’s reunion with his ex-wife and daughter (Danny Elfman)
- The Graduate — “The Sound of Silence” (Simon and Garfunkel)
- Apocalypse Now — “The End” (The Doors)
- Watership Down — The ascent, “Climbing the Down” (Angela Morely)
- Toy Story 2 — “When She Loved Me” (Sarah McLachlan)
- The Dark Crystal — “The Funerals” for the Mystic master & emperor; the “Love Theme” during the boat journey (Trevor Jones)
- Once — “Falling Slowly” (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)
- The Royal Tenenbaums — ”She Smiled Sweetly / Ruby Tuesday” (The Rolling Stones)
- U2: Rattle and Hum — “With or Without You” (the finale)
- Just about any musical moment from The Muppet Movie (Paul Williams)