Part 1: Music

World-known for his Lord of the Rings trilogy, Sir Peter Jackson has created a name for himself with his unique style and creation of films. This blog will disucss the ways that Jackson uses the same film form to create the same film content, through different techniques. I have chosen to focus on two internationally renowned films: the first film inspired his directors dream, 2005 action drama film King Kong, and the second instalment of the fantasy adventure trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013). Both of these famous films contain adventure and action, complete with large monsters of interesting creation.

[Fig. 2.1] Howard scoring in his office (Youtube still)

[Fig. 2.1] Howard scoring in his office (Youtube still)

To begin with, we will look at music. In both King Kong and The Hobbit, beautiful soundtracks were composed to add to the sense of emotion and convey a narrative. “Music is a crucial element in the film experience; among a range of other effects, it provides rhythm and deepens emotional response.” (Corrigan and White, 195). Such as in King Kong, when Ann is kidnapped at the beginning of the film to sacrifice to Kong. [Fig. 2.1]. The music – composed by James Newton Howard – appears more urgent and deadly, matching the scene of tribal sacrifice.

[Fig. 2.2] Scoring of music for King Kong (Youtube still)

[Fig. 2.2] Scoring of music for King Kong (Youtube still)

The music builds in tempo as she is slowly hung of the cliff; intensifying in anticipation. The viewer senses that something monumental is about to happen, and their interest builds in time with the soundtrack. In contrast to this moment, when Kong is ‘ice skating’ in New York, with Ann in his hand. During this scene, the music is beautiful and loving, with soft piano and orchestral renderings. Similar to Beauty and the Beast, Ann saw something no one else could see, and we sense this love and comfort in the musical narrative. There is a defining difference between these two scenes, clearly expressed through the musical narrative. [Fig. 2.2]. With the changing of accompaniments throughout the film, we as the viewer experience the development of their relationship and watch the emotions deepen from fear to love.

[Fig. 2.3] Control Room in The Hobbit (Production Diary 14 still)

[Fig. 2.3] Control Room in The Hobbit (Production Diary 14 still)

In comparison, The Hobbit also contains musical accompaniments varying in rhythm and style. [Fig. 2.3]. Some of the arrangementsoccur many times, creating the same emotional reaction each time. In fact, some even remind us of previous movies such as Lord of the Rings, bringing a familiarity to the film in which viewers can reminisce and appreciate. The different species of characters also get their own musical renditions, with each arrangement being memorable for certain characters – the elves appear elegant and regal, such as their heavenly harmonic textures and longing strings, whereas Sauron’s theme is loud and powerful;

[Fig. 2.4] Musicians beginning to set up for the scoring of The Hobbit (Production Diary 14 still)

[Fig. 2.4] Musicians beginning to set up for the scoring of The Hobbit (Production Diary 14 still)

portraying his negative and evil intentions. As stated in The Film Experience, “the relationship between image and sound and among separate sounds will also be motivated by dramatic action or information.” (pg. 206). The music arrangement ranges from ethereal piano and strings to full-on terrifying orchestral representations; coinciding with the changing events within the film. [Fig. 2.4]. The soundtrack throughout The Hobbit adds immensely to its emotional narrative, and the viewer can really immerse themselves in the depths of it all; fully experiencing the film through this film form.

To see more on the score for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, follow this Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRAbSX1ySeY

And to see James Newton Howard record the score for King Kong, check out this Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sItU81eoQms


References:

  • Corrigan, Timothy and Patricia White. The Film Experience: An Introduction. 3rd Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. Print.
  • King Kong. Dir. Peter Jackson. WingNut Films, 2005. Film.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Dir. Peter Jackson. New Line Cinema, 2013. Film.
  • “James Newton Howard Scoring King Kong”. 22 Jul 2010. Web Video. 26 Apr 2015 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sItU81eoQms>.
  • Peter Jackson. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Production Diary 14”. 4 Dec 2013. Web Video. 25 Apr 2015 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRAbSX1ySeY>.
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