Adding emotion with the sound of music (in movies)

Hannah Uranich, IV Leader Columnist

Movies are a uniquely portable magic. They have the power to evoke emotions we may never even knew we had; whether it be falling in love with a character, sympathizing and relating to a problem in the plot, or just being purely entertained. We are able to discover our true interests and find out things maybe we didn’t even know about ourselves. Many factors affect what makes a fantastic movie or what makes a movie fantastic like the story, acting, director, dialogue or even setting.
However, one of the most influential parts of cinema is the music in movies. Music in motion pictures acts as an indicator of when something bad is going to happen, when there’s a hopeful outlook or when the plot is thickening. Music in movies also acts as a signature of the film, a melodious reminder of how we felt during watching the movie.
Music affects films in all sorts of ways. For example, whenever I hear the song “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison I immediately envision Julia Roberts walking down Rodeo Drive in the 1980s romantic comedy “Pretty Woman.” In fact, according to, the production was actually going to be named “3000” because of the amount of money Julia Robert’s character was paid by Richard Gere’s character for her services. Later it was changed to “Pretty Woman”, after the song by Orbison was used in the movie’s sound track.
Another example of how songs are so vital to films is the time-honored story of friendship in the movie “Stand by Me.” This movie was based on Stephen King’s novella “The Body.” After the ending of the movie, which proves the power of true friendship, the song “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King reassures and enforces the theme of the children finding themselves and having true friends to help along the way.
Another way music affects films is by helping relate to the audience. The 2013 “Great Gatsby” remake starring Leonardo Dicaprio does just that. The movie is based in New York during the fashionable and jazzy Roaring ‘20s. This movie’s entire soundtrack is modernized with songs that people, and especially young people, know like songs from iconic musicians such as Kanye West, Jay Z, and Lana Del Rey. It has a mix of beats and orchestrations that might have been played during the time of when the movie was taking place. By encompassing this method of mixing modern music into an old time frame, young viewers are able to picture and relate to the excitement of the story.
Music does not just mean songs with powerful lyrics, but it also means the score of movies, just instrumentals. An example of music that significantly affects audiences is the piercing violin score from Alfred Hitchcock’s horror masterpiece, “Psycho.” One moment you are patiently awaiting what happens next and then the piercing music comes up. Once the shrieking score enters the film, you can almost guess what the character’s fate will be.
Although we may take for granted the harmonious sounds in movies, music is a huge part of movies. In many movies, they truly inspire the film and help the film live on throughout time. I have always loved the effect of what music can do. My appreciation for these great movies grows even more when they are combined with songs that completely sum up the motion picture in the best way possible.