23 October 2003

So I've been playing the soundtrack to Kill Bill Vol. 1 a lot lately. It's great, but it has me wondering if I love the soundtrack because of the movie, or love the movie because of the soundtrack. Tracks like "The Flower of Carnage" or "The Lonely Shepherd" give my memory of the final scenes in Kill Bill an emotional resonance that the movie itself doesn't justify. After playing the album a few times, you find yourself caring for the movie's characters a lot more than before. Which is like falling in love with someone, as Rob puts it in High Fidelity, because of "a great chord change in a Pretenders single." (Or, in my case, because of that *%#! Moby.)

Sometimes I wonder how many movies I've fallen in love with because of a great chord change. All of my favorite movies have great soundtracks, of course, but which way does the causal arrow run? Would Chungking Express mean as much to me if it weren't for "Dreams" by The Cranberries? Was Anton Karas really a genius on the zither, or was he just lucky to have The Third Man as a backdrop? Sometimes I'll get to the point where the soundtrack actually usurps the movie itself. I'm always vaguely disappointed whenever I watch Twin Peaks these days, because Twin Peaks was just a TV show, but the soundtrack took root in my dreams. Something similar seems to be happening with Vanilla Sky. I saw that movie a perplexing four times in the theater, and it was mostly for the sake of the first five notes of "Everything in Its Right Place," which sound really, really good in Dolby Digital.

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