As a composer, its important to expose yourself to a diverse range of musical and cinematic influences, and some of the greatest film scores ever written are to be found in international productions.
In this article, we share 6 of our favourite foreign films with inspriuing music to add to your watch list.
Read on and enjoy!
1. ‘Spirited Away’ - Miyazaki
Joe Hisaishi’s score is nothing short of ground-breaking and breathtaking on this Oscar award-winning film. The film won the Oscar for it’s beautifully crafted animation that is surrealist and contains giant ducks and babies to boot. The theme song, ‘One Summer’s Day’ that has multiple motifs throughout the film, goes from a simple piano melody to a huge emphatic orchestral sound all in the space in 3 minutes with Japanese sensibility and elegance intertwined. Hisaishi’s versatility is shown with the creepy and sinister ‘The Sixth Shop’ with its undulating use of Japanese instrumentation that creates a very unsettling environment. If you want a masterclass in film composition, this film is the place to look.
2. ‘Les Parapluies De Cherbourg’ - Demy
This ‘Palme D’or’ winner of 1964 features an incredible score by the French composer Michel Legrand. The romantic musical is sung all the way through, from the most mundane of conversations to the one of the highest drama, all of it being ‘recitative’. Due to this use of recitative, the work is called operatic. ‘I will wait for you’ or in the original French, ‘Devant le Garage’ is the most notable song to come out of the film as it became Academy Award nominated and covered by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Connie Francis.
3. ‘Oldboy’ - Park Chan-Wook
The winner of the Grand Prize of the Jury of the Cannes Film Festival is well known for its incredible suspense and unpredictable ending. The standout feature of the score is that each of the individual characters has a piece within the composition, and their titles all come from titles of noir movies. Three different composers created the extremely detailed score which greatly shows the connection between characters at the same time as describing each of their individual personalities. If you are a fan of noir films or want to find a new taste, this would be a great choice.
4. ‘Drive My Car’ - Ryusuke Hamaguchi
This movie mainly follows the emotional changes that characters have happen to them by fate or within the ever-changing and emotional states within the characters themselves. The film’s soundtrack is succinct and completely to the point of each of the emotional states and is beautifully crafted. Right at the end of this film is where main soundtrack offers a humungous impact on the film, and even though it is used only for a short duration, it keeps ringing in the heart of the audience and leaves the film firmly within the audiences mind, even after they leave the theatre with its huge swells and dynamic range.
5. ‘Cinema Paradiso’ - Tornatore
Cinema Paradiso is a wonderful and touching love letter to cinema. This italian classic from 1988 is a must-watch being an Oscar award-winning film, Giuseppe Tornatore's masterpiece would not be the same without the music composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone. The soundtrack, one of Morricone's best works, is a precious hymn to memory, youth, childhood, and to first love and friendship. A nostalgic look back at the place and the people who saw us grow, without forgetting that all those passions are also born in a movie theatre as well. His moving musical compositions, with a great melodious accompaniment, are orchestrated with simple means where the violin, piano and guitar stand out and are precise to achieve that wonderful emotional atmosphere.
“Cinema Paradiso” is also about the passage from childhood to maturity, from fantasy to reality. All this is captured with “Childhood and Manhood” in a beautiful and warm way.
The most famous tune of the movie, “Love Theme”, was created by his son Andrea Morricone, and endows the film's images with those flashes of love and passion. A beautiful piece, which represents one of the high points of the soundtrack and sounds in the unforgettable emotional climax of the movie.
6. ‘Carmen’ - Saura
Carmen is a 1983 Spanish film adaptation of the novel ‘Carmen’ using music from the opera by Georges Bizet and fusing it with traditional flamenco music and dance. Directed by Carlos Saura, this film was the winner of a BAFTA and was nominated to an Oscar. In the film, modern dancers re-enact in their personal lives, Bizet's tragic love affair. Carmen's story is a story of devouring obsession. Instead of giving a documentary treatment to the plot, they opt for a game of mirrors where the preparation of the performance is reflected in the real world. The movies soundtrack includes performances by legendary guitarrist Paco de Lucía, and he shines in the most beautiful moments of the film, in which his guitar blends with Bizet's music.
The sound composition is spectacular and is one of the best aspects being a flamenco presence, which ends up making the viewer fall in love under its captivating Spanish flair. Carlos Saura offers an aesthetic realisation where he immerses the viewer in the force of dance and that dance can say everything it needs to without the need to say a word.
The quality of the soundtrack and the musical technical deployment is undeniable. On the one hand, it respects the original opera, knowing how to combine it with flamenco, resulting in an incredible mixture of arrangements. Then, the usefulness of the silences, which give the public a romantic and gallant effect, which exhibits a spectacular handling of an attribute that is not easy to control. The Tabacalera scene and the famous Habanera aria are great examples of the captivating result of the fusion of this genres. If you're interested in exploring this breathtaking Spanish traditional art, you can't miss this movie.
We hope you enjoyed checking out this blog post! Stay tuned for more film music and orchestral content to come in the future.
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