Inspired by the current three-part BBC4 series, Sound of Cinema: The Music That Made the Movies, I decided to compile my own list of favourites. Let me know what you think and tell me your favourites.

Midnight Cowboy (1969, Schlesinger)
Whilst there are a couple of great songs in Midnight Cowboy, including the recurring sound of Fred Neil’s ‘Everybody’s Talkin”, it’s the compositions by John Barry, such as the foreboding ‘Science Fiction’ that are most resonant. The bluesy, lingering ‘Midnight Cowboy Theme’ played on harmonica elevates the music in this film from good to brilliant.

A Clockwork Orange (1971, Kubrick)
The classical score featuring re-worked pieces by Beethoven (Alex’s favourite) and Rossini is in direct contrast with the (ultra)violence in the film, which makes it all the better. ‘The Thieving Magpie’ by Rossini is put to very good use in one such scene. Alex’s death-grip stare at the beginning of the film is heightened with the use of ‘Funeral Music For Queen Mary’, and ‘Singin’ In the Rain’ will never be heard in the same way again.

Cruising (1980, Friedkin)
The soundtrack to Cruising is quite significant. As the film is set predominantly in gay clubs in the late 1970s one might expect stereotypical disco tracks. Instead it features American punk and garage acts like the Germs and the Cripples. The film struggles a bit in parts (it was subject to numerous cuts) but Al Pacino is excellent as undercover cop Steve Burns.

Christine (1983, Carpenter)
Not a brilliant film but a brilliant soundtrack. Christine is a rock ‘n’ roll lover’s dream of Richie Valens, Dion and the Belmonts, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Thurston Harris. Combined with the 1950s demonic car it’s the perfect combination. If you like this soundtrack you’ll also like American Graffiti and The Outsiders.

Betty Blue (1986, Beineix)
For me the highlight of this film is the score by Gabriel Yared. The use of the merry-go-round music (‘Maudits Maneges’) at the beginning of the film sets it up well – you know you’ll be taken on a journey, albeit a slightly deranged one that doesn’t really go anywhere. I think my favourite track from the soundtrack is ‘C’est le Vent, Betty’, which kicks in when Betty and Zorg flee their burning beach hut. It connotes a sense of freedom, romance, and recklessness, which links directly to the plot.

Casino (1995, Scorsese)
Scorsese films tend to be backed up with strong musical choices. The Casino soundtrack is a mixture of mostly 60s and 70s hits, with lots of Rolling Stones as well as the Animals, Roxy Music, Ray Charles and many more. But it’s the offbeat choices, such as the use of Devo’s cover of ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ on top of a slowed down scene of Robert De Niro making his way across the casino floor, that really surprise.

Lola Rennt aka Run Lola Run (1998, Tykwer)
A high-octane soundtrack for a high-octane movie. ‘Running One’ is an exploding techno concoction that introduces Lola to the audience as she pounds the streets of Berlin in search of 100,000 Marks to save her boyfriend’s skin. Much of the score is the director’s own conception with Franka Potente (Lola) providing vocals, which makes this film more interesting as a result.

Requiem for a Dream (2000, Aronofsky)
The music by Clint Mansell in this film complements it so well. ‘Coney Island Dreaming’ is chilling and makes a grim scene even more depressing, whilst the main theme ‘Lux Aeterna’ is truly epic. ‘Lux Aeterna’ is used throughout Requiem for a Dream and is effective in every scene.

Amelie (2001, Jeunet)
Funnily enough, a very Parisian sounding score (lots of accordion) by Yann Tiersen. This is a very uplifting soundtrack, which sums up Amelie’s joyful personality. ‘La Valse d’Amelie’ is probably the most recognisable song, but there are so many that take you straight to the top of la Tour Eiffel.

Gegen die Wand aka Head-On (2004, Akin)
Traditional Turkish music interspersed with Depeche Mode, Sisters of Mercy and the Birthday Party. Random but it works. If you haven’t seen this film, the main characters, Sibel and Cahit, are at odds with their traditional Turkish heritage and their current German citizenship, which makes the soundtrack more significant. The modern day action in the film often cuts to a scene of folk musicians in Istanbul, reminding us that the characters are constantly struggling with two conflicting nationalities.

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