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The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Ten Great Film Soundtracks

The Film Soundtrack - essential accompaniment to cinematic visuals or a manipulative marketing tool? The debate, to be honest, will probably rage for years to come. Fear not, for in the meantime CLUAS will do its best to appease the masses with this list of 10 great film soundtracks, as nominated and written by various visitors to the site. Among those that made the final ten are some original scores commissioned specially for a film, others are compilations of different tunes by different artists that pepper a particular film. However there has, as we all too well know, been far too many questionably motivated soundtrack compilations and - that worst offender of all - collections of 'music inspired by the film'. But on the other hand the place where films and music meet can occasionally result in breathtaking moments of genuine inspiration. Read on and let any doubters have their faith restored...

Deliverance (Duelling Banjos)

Pulp Fiction (Various Artists)

Duelling Banjos scene in Deliverance"Talk about genetic deficiencies. Isn't that pitiful?". So Bobby (Ned Beatty) greets the cretinous hillbilly boy in 'Deliverance', John Boorman's seminal "city blokes in the wild" movie. Primarily remembered for its brutal male-rape, this claustrophobic film was briefly lifted by the captivating "Duelling Banjos" scene where the boy and Drew (Ronny Cox) trade banjo and guitar licks to a gloriously furious ending. The city man eventually admits defeat but instead of uniting the two protagonists, the boy remains suspicious and refuses Drew's hand of friendship. Drew is disappointed and so begins the men's downward slide into degradation and adversity. A gem. (submitted by Stephen McNulty) Pulp Fiction SoundtrackUndoubtedly one of the best soundtracks of the 90s. Some wonderful music such as "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Let's stay together". The strong point of this album though are the pieces of dialogue from the film that are used. The selection and placement of the snippets between songs is near perfect. From Samuel L. Jackson's bible rhetoric (Ezekiel 25-17) to John Travolta's monologue on Europe ('Royale with Cheese...'). The high point of this whole experience has to be the opening snippet "Any one of you motherf**kers move and I'll execute every motherf**king last one of you" (Submitted by Ronan Murphy)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
(Ennio Morricone)

The Last Temptation of Christ
(Peter Gabriel - actual album title is 'Passion')

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Perhaps some of the most powerful music to hit the big screen, Ennio Moricone created a moving score to match an equally epic film. Truly all-encompassing and completely immense. Rarely has a movie had a soundtrack that not only emphasises what is happening on screen at that moment in time, but also creates a feeling of anticipation of what is about to come. As Eastwood staggers around half dead from dehydration, the music dies down and leaves us to watch the spectacle. But when he gets back up (as Eastwood always does) the music kicks into overdrive and the orchestral climax results in a complete immersion of the viewer into the plot and story - so much so that when it ends, you feel it could have gone on forever. Therein does lie the essence of a great score. (submitted by Keith Barrett) Peter Gabriel's 'Passion' (Soundtrack to 'The Last Temptation of Christ')Peter Gabriel's soundtrack to M. Scorcese's The Last Temptation of Christ is, to put it simply, a perfect soundtrack album. It's so much more than "background" music that supports the emotions of a visual scene; more than songs that define/simplify the film's messages through overt lyrics. This wonderful collection actually supports the film in forcing us to view our Jesus myth in a new way. By the brilliant use and mixture of sounds mostly alien to the West, Gabriel prods us to remember (or, maybe, truly realize for the first time) that yer man Heshua wasn't a European or an American; that he didn't speak Latin, or Italian, or English. His world was a mysterious and strange crossroads of the Levant. Intellectually, of course, we know that, but this music makes you feel it, and confront it. When music forces you to think bigger, it is art at its best. (Submitted by John Ford)

Magnolia (Aimee Mann)

Trois Coleurs: Bleu (Zbigniew Preisner)

Aimee Mann's soundtrack to Magnolia A unique soundtrack considering it was P.T. Anderson's inspiration for the script which, like the music, moves from fast-paced drama to slow tense emotional scenes... with some irony and humour thrown into the mix. In fact, at times one could see this film as one long music video. Anderson wrote the script to fit the mood and ideas contained within Aimee Mann's songs, which he heard in their rough stages. In one great scene the entire cast stop what they are doing (from dying to driving!) to sing along with the track 'Wise Up', creating an integral relationship between the music and the on screen story. Mann gives some great lines of dialogue, such as the one Anderson uses for the captivating character of Claudia - "now that I've met you, would you object to never seeing each other again" or my other favourite one "it's not going to stop until you wise up, no it's not going to stop so just give up". Not very uplifting but I sing it to myself all the time! (Submitted by Anna Keeling) Juliette Binochet in 'Trois Coleurs: Bleus'It has been some time since I visited Krzysztof Kieslowski's world of colour, time and music so I remember only snatches of dialogue, particularly moving moments and intense ideas of fate or love. The score however stands out in my mind in a way that I can touch it and feel it still. Like Julie (Juliette Binoche) sitting on the stairs, interrupted in her grief by blue visual manifestations of her dead husband's overture, it visits me often times. Like a presence, haunting and incredibly emotional. Sometimes known as Van Den Budenmayer, has managed to make music an integral part of the film's visual form, driving the narrative and releasing secrets of the heart. I think one of the final lines of the composition's climax translates something like this: "If I have not love I am become as hollow brass." It is a message to those who think they can escape pain through shutting down that love can conquer all, and that human emotion rises out of any loss. A CD hard to find, but worth the hunt.(submitted by Anna Keeling)

The Virgin Suicides (Air)

Batman Forever (Various Artists)

Air's soundtrack to the 'Virgin Suicides' Dark, mysterious and moody, this soundtrack by Air captures the essence of Sofia Coppola's intelligent film. The music added so much to the film, I found myself going out and buying the soundtrack the day after I saw it. Every time I listen to it, I can picture the scenes from the film. A must hear. A must see. (Submitted by Noelle McNamara) Cover of the 'Batman Forever' soundtrack The film might have been slightly bogey but the soundtrack was actually quite good. As is usual with movie soundtracks, there's a few dodgy tracks - the one on this being 'Method Man', but the rest seems to be of a surprisingly high standard. There's a lot of variation in there too: Seal's "Kiss From A Rose "supplying ballady type stuff, punk from The Offspring with "Smash It Up", and U2 put their rock star image to great use with "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me", one of their best from recent years. A good album if you don't know what mood you're in. (Submitted by Philip Dunlop)

Betty Blue (Gabriel Yared)

The Godfather (Nino Rota)

It was the obvious thing to do. I was 15, I had a free gaff, so with four (male) mates I hit the grubby local video rental shop and picked up the latest arty French film that was out. We did so safe in the knowledge that (sad adolescents that we were) a bit of female nudity was - for all intensive purposes - guaranteed (cinema + nudity? sure that's as French as a fresh baguette + camembert). But what we hadn't banked on was that the film in question - 'Betty Blue' - would also provide a compelling soundtrack that rattled us beautifully, each and every one of us. From lyrical piano duets, to squeaky window cleaning noises, to fairground music, to deeply evocative soundscapes - this was a perfect moment of cinema embracing music and the music returning the affection. In abundance. And sure there was that opening scene as well... (Submitted by Eoghan O'Neill) Soundtrack to the GodfatherNino Rota's Oscar nomination for The Godfather's haunting music score in 1972 was withdrawn, because it was discovered that Rota had taken the film's love theme from an older score, for an obscure 1958 Italian picture. Although he later shared an Oscar with Carmine Coppola for The Godfather Part II (1974), this beautifully evocative piece will forever conjure up images of Brando and Pacino, Caan and Duvall in what remains the greatest movie ever made. Rota also wrote the score for many of Fellini's best films (including La Dolce Vita) and is maybe best remembered for the popular "The Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet" from Zeffirelli's unparalleled late sixties Shakespeare adaptation. Available on any Nino Rota compilation. (Submitted by Stephen McNulty)


Also make sure you check out the other ten lists:
(bullet) ten great debut albums
(bullet) ten great one-hit wonders
(bullet) ten great hidden album tracks
(bullet) ten great b-sides
(bullet) ten great rock & pop instrumentals
(bullet) ten great naff songs of the eighties
(bullet) ten great cover versions
(bullet) ten great album openers
(bullet) ten great Irish singles that time forgot