Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini
...from Somewhere in Time
With the massive celebration of pop culture over (Comic Con), I’ve been inspired to take a look at the best use of classical music in movies. This is not about original motion picture scores but about the use of previously composed music in the movies.
I’ve chosen five here based on nothing in particular except that they are somewhat off the beaten path. These five are not the end all be all. There will be more in the future.
Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Christopher Plummer, and Jane Seymour, introduced Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini to the country at large. The movie is a fantasy about a romance created by self-hypnosis. Forgive the wretched second half of this clip.
A Night at the Opera
...from Life Is Beautiful
Excalibur is a cult classic and lines up well with the Comic Con zeitgeist. It uses Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana — I’m not a fan — and Wagner’s prelude to Tristan und Isolde, but it is Siegfried’s funeral march from Götterdämmerung that concludes the movie.
Life is Beautiful was the moment many Americans realized Italy makes movies. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone to name an Italian movie and keep track of the answers. I guarantee it’s La vita e bella and Cinema Paradiso. It’s interesting that the classical music in Life is Beautiful is by the French composer Jacques Offenbach and not an Italian.
Beethoven's Symphony No. 9
...from A Clockwork Orange
Ravel's Bolero from 1979’s 10 became connected with the sexuality of the early '80s. Suddenly the rhythmic monotony of Ravel became a most happy repetition.
Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange uses Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 but not in its traditional, fully endowed form. The piece shows up in a shopping mall while Alex observes girls devouring phallic popsicles. I shall allow Slavoj Žižek to do the explaining.