Best Film Soundtracks
The ability to craft a great movie is not just the role of a director. In fact, film is unique in the art world in the sense that it takes a nearly unbelievable amount of cooperation and shared vision to create something special. If you have ever seen the credits for a feature length film, you understand that filmmaking is a collaborative effort – one that is significantly more than the work of just a director and a group of actors. One of the most important, and often unrecognized aspects of a film is the soundtrack. A well curated soundtrack can elevate a mediocre movie into a good movie, a good movie into a great movie, and a great movie into a masterpiece. At BorrowFox, we recognize the importance of all aspects of film production. That is we have compiled a list of four of our favourite movie soundtracks:
Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater’s classic coming of age comedy follows various different teenagers in a small Texas town on the last day of school in 1976. Teenage rebellion, apathy, and confusion mark the main themes of the film, and the soundtrack serves to heighten these emotions. Perhaps more importantly for the tone of the film, the soundtrack mirrors what teenagers in 1976 were actually listening to. As a filmmaker Linklater is rightfully lauded for his ability to capture different periods in history and the soundtrack for Dazed and Confused is a perfect example of that. Artists featured on the soundtrack include Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, Kiss, and many more.
Killer of Sheep
Killer of Sheep, written, directed, produced, and shot by Charles Burnett, was completed in 1978 to little fanfare. However, over the years, the film has gained an almost legendary reputation as neorealist exploration of the life of poor black Americans living in South Central Los Angeles. At times funny, and at times brutally crushing, the film was Burnett’s master’s thesis at UCLA. In his attempt to capture the experience of the poor, disenfranchised black LA community, Burnett carefully chose a haunting soundtrack by a slew of legendary black recording artists including Etta James, Earth Wind & Fire, and Dinah Washington. In fact, for Burnett the music was so critical the tone of the film that, when he couldn’t afford to pay the $150,000 price tag for the rights, he decided simply to not release the film. There is a particularly beautiful and haunting scene in which an exhausted black couple dance to Washington’s “This Bitter Earth”. All in all, Killer of Sheep is a perfect example of how important a soundtrack can be for a movie to reach great heights.
Reservoir Dogs is easily one of Quentin Tarantino’s best pieces of work. The heist film is known for its graphic depiction of violence, as well as its stand out performances. However, perhaps its longest lasting contribution to the cultural consciousness is the soundtrack. The happy-go-lucky bouncy soundtrack, which includes songs by Steppenwolf, Bedlam, Joe Tex, and more, contrasts sharply with the excessibe violence. The most prominent example of this is the use of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck In the Middle With You” which is played in the midst of a brutal torture scene.
High Fidelity’s Romantic Comedy plot relies on more than just the directing of Stephen Frears, or the charismatic performances of John Cusack and Iben Hjejle. In fact, it is the film’s extensive, and meticulously curated soundtrack that most effectively drives the story’s action. The story is based on John Cusack’s character’s “top 5” girlfriends – an exercise he creates after obsessively creating top 5 music lists in his record shop. The pain, love, and humour that is displayed throughout the movie is constantly connected to various songs that reflect the different moods. The eclectic soundtrack includes songs by artists such as Public Enemy, Lou Reed, Elton John, and the Vaselines.