Title

Film Music and Audience Expectations

Presenter Information

Lauren Leshley

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Theatre

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Film Music, Leitmotifs, Themes

Abstract

This paper covers the functions and uses of music in mainstream films. While its original purpose was to distract the audience from elements that might lessen the illusion of reality, today’s film music seeks to enhance emotion, set the tone for audience expectation, and communicate about characters’ mental states and their relationships with one another. Films with notable scores that accomplish these goals are Up, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Up’s score consists of one main theme that is played throughout the film. Originally, it represents Carl’s wife Ellie and their life together; after she dies, it comes to represent more generally the spirit of adventure his wife possessed. Pirates of the Caribbean’s characters have various leitmotifs that are combined at the end into a triumphant musical piece called “He’s a Pirate,” that symbolizes the main character’s victory and growth. Treasure of the Sierra Madre has several themes that communicate much about the genre and events of the film, but also give clues as to the mental state of Fred C. Dobbs, whose mental health starts to deteriorate the more gold he finds. Each of these films shows how music can be used for multiple purposes to enhance audience experience.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Melissa Johnson

Department/Program

Communication

Additional Mentoring Department

Film and Video Studies

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May 21st, 1:30 PM May 21st, 1:50 PM

Film Music and Audience Expectations

SURC Theatre

This paper covers the functions and uses of music in mainstream films. While its original purpose was to distract the audience from elements that might lessen the illusion of reality, today’s film music seeks to enhance emotion, set the tone for audience expectation, and communicate about characters’ mental states and their relationships with one another. Films with notable scores that accomplish these goals are Up, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Up’s score consists of one main theme that is played throughout the film. Originally, it represents Carl’s wife Ellie and their life together; after she dies, it comes to represent more generally the spirit of adventure his wife possessed. Pirates of the Caribbean’s characters have various leitmotifs that are combined at the end into a triumphant musical piece called “He’s a Pirate,” that symbolizes the main character’s victory and growth. Treasure of the Sierra Madre has several themes that communicate much about the genre and events of the film, but also give clues as to the mental state of Fred C. Dobbs, whose mental health starts to deteriorate the more gold he finds. Each of these films shows how music can be used for multiple purposes to enhance audience experience.