“It’s hard to imagine a movie without music. I would only condemn my enemies to watching a movie without music!”
Words: Ferdinand Godinez
He may be biased, but veteran music producer Randall Poster, whose past projects include The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Wolf of Wall Street and Skyfall does have a point.
The film industry has evolved from silent films to epic productions with such iconic soundtracks that even movie newbies find themselves inadvertently humming along to Star Wars and Frozen.
“Music plays a different role in different films,” Poster adds. “Sometimes it is used to set a story in a particular time frame or era. Sometimes music is the motor that drives the story forward. Sometimes it is a moment of emphasis or a moment of clarification.”
While an effective narrative plays a huge part in a film’s success, helping to stir emotions in viewers, music is playing an increasingly bigger role.
Rather than providing a soundtrack to suit certain scenes, directors are going straight to the decks and letting music lead the way.
Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, whose movies are known to utilise music to build scenes and tension, once admitted that his first port of call when writing a film is sifting through his record collection, listening to songs to “find the personality of the movie”. That explains Pulp Fiction’s epic soundtrack.
More recently, superhero flick Guardians of the Galaxy placed a heavy emphasis on its soundtrack, Awesome Mix Vol 1 and 2.
But director Edward Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs The World) has taken things one step further with his latest film, Baby Driver, scheduled for release in the UAE on 20th July.
Billed as a musical version of Fast & Furious, the heist movie stars the ironically baby-faced Ansel Elgort as Baby, or Mozart in a Go-Kart as he’s described, a young getaway driver who uses music to block out the pain of losing his parents in a car crash.
Check out some of the killer tracks in the trailer
Aside from music being an integral part of the main character’s life, songs are played on screen as a way of driving each scene. But this is less of a musical, more an extended MTV music video: a film with plenty of rhythm like chords that string each scene together through effortlessly cool characters.
“When I pitched it to the studio, I said it was a car movie driven by music,” said Wright, whose idea for the film started over 20 years ago when he was a struggling director living in London. “I always stopped short of saying ‘musical’ because you don’t want half the dudes in the audience to say ‘Is this like Mamma Mia?'”
“I was listening to the song that opens the movie, which is Bellbottoms by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I heard that album when I was about 21 and it blew me away and I couldn’t listen to that song without thinking of a car chase.”
To call the film groundbreaking is perhaps an exaggeration, although not too far fetched in the eyes of many film critics. It seems Wright has projected all of his personality into this one: his comedic touch, passion for motors and a long-standing vision for a retro action musical – and it seems to have paid off.
“There’s no room for complacency in cinema,” he said. “So if you can’t make something new and interesting, why bother?”
In cinemas now.
Also starring: Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal and Jon Hamm
Running time: 113 mins