Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Is that a piano key?

Recently over at Wonders in the Dark, Sam Juliano posted an engaging piece where film buffs were invited to name their favorite movie scores of all time. 

Even I had been so bold as to name the greatest film composers not so long ago here at The Schleicher Spin

And while it’s true, many of the greatest films are also imbued with beautiful original musical scores where the moving images flow in perfect harmony with the composers’ notes…it made me wonder… 

What of the artists who take a well-known existing piece of music and create moving images that become married to the music’s rhythm? 

It’s been so parodied over the years…but can anyone deny the jaw-droppingly imaginative conceit of Stanley Kubrick using Richard Strauss’ “The Spoke Zarathustra” for the opening to his greatest cinematic achievement (hell, THE GREATEST CINEMATIC ACHIEVEMENT) 2001: A Space Odyssey


I invite my readers and fellow film bloggers to name their favorite marriage of pre-existing music with film. 

Here are some of my most memorable moments: 

  • Terrence Malick using Carl Orff’s “Musica Poetica” in Badlands
  • Malick (again) using Camille Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals” in the hypnotic opening credits to Days of Heaven
  • Martin Scorsese, the master of pop-music montages, using Derek and the Dominoes’ “Layla” during his “bodies in the meat truck” Goodfellas montage
  • Sofia Coppola, taking a cue from Pappa’s generation, and using Heart’s “Crazy on You” as the anthem for female teenage rebellion and wanton lust in The Virgin Suicides
  • David Lynch using the Oscar Hammerstein penned ditty “I’ve Told Every Little Star” (sung by Linda Scott) during that magical Mulholland Drive moment where Naomi Watts is whisked away to the big audition
  • Malick (and again) using Richard Wagner’s “Vorspiel to Das Rhiengold” for three bookmark montages in The New World

Of course, then there’s Richard Einhorn (and his Voices of Light choir) who did things in reverse and was so inspired by Carl Theodor Dreyer’s vision that he created a brand new music score for the greatest of silent films, The Passion of Joan of Arc

Or then there’s this moment, also from Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, where the director exemplifies the bizarre dream world of his female protagonist by taking Roy Orbison’s famous ballad “Crying” and having the unknown Rebecca Del Rio sing it in Spanish.  PURE GENIUS. 


Written By David H. Schleicher 

Now it’s time to name your favorite music/movie moment.  Speak out and speak up in the comment form. 

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