Long waited 4th season for 'The Crown' is finally arrived and it’s regarded as the best one so far by the majority of the reviews. The series didn't have an interesting music usage so far, but the minute 2nd episode featured an opera scene, it got our attention :)
In the episode ‘The Balmoral Test’, Windsors happily argue around the table about whose name will be under of the deer’s head when it will be hunted and we hear the first notes of an aria. In that moment, we don’t know the source of the music yet. The opening line from La Traviata (Verdi)’s aria ‘E strano’ is being sang by a soprano while the camera focuses on the other pray displayed on the wall proudly while the family is laughing and joking out of focus. Seconds later, we see the singer from behind and understand that it is not a background music, it is diagetic and we’re actually listening the piece along with Diana, Charles and Diana’s grandmother.
Alfredo just confessed his love for Violetta, a wealthy courtesan who lives for joy and cannot afford to fall in love. However, his words strangely awake something in Violetta where she’s questioning her way of life for the first time with this aria. We are facing the sincere moment Violetta was honest with herself just before she turns to reality in the upcoming aria. After a brief moment -the part we hear in the episode, she comes to her senses and choose joy over love in the wonderful aria ‘Sempre Libera’. In the end, she let herself fall in love with Alfredo, leave her current life. But Alfredo’s father convince her to leave Alfredo. She sacrifices her love but Alfredo mistakenly blames her. He understands the truth at the death bad of Violetta who suffers from tuberculosis. She dies just when she unites with him. Here is the wonderful production analysis of the opera, and here is Pretty Woman perfectly referencing the piece :)
Since ‘E strano’ is the heroine’s aria, my first reaction is to analyse this through Diana. Yes, the lyrics can make sense, if self-contained, at the common point of unhappy endings. But now, I wonder if it’s Charles who questions it. We know he has doubts and love somebody else at that point. We are not sure if he’s started to feel something for Diana or just doing what he’s forced to do. The frame captures Charles’s gazing of Diana; maybe he’s thinking to give her a chance. He’s strangely questioning the possibility..
How strange it is … how strange!
Those words are carved upon my heart!
Would a true love bring me misfortune?
What do you think, o my troubled spirit?
No man before kindled a flame like this.
Oh, joy …
I never knew …
To love and to be loved!
Can I disdain this
For a life of sterile pleasure?
Just as this aria leads to ‘dismissal of love’ aria, Charles also dismiss this feeling just after the opera. As they leave the opera, Diana says ‘I adore Verdi, he’s such a romantic’. Charles, unimpressed, respond that ‘It would be dismissal to focus on romanticism of Verdi. His music played a key role in the Italian unification, too’. Charles is absolutely right and I would be saying that too, definitely :) But Diana is not wrong by knowing Verdi with his romanticism. His most popular works; La Traviata, Rigoletto, Il Travatore; are romantic. Diana’ love for that is completely okay and this is the case for majority of the opera audience. However, Charles is looking for someone who’s in the same intellectuality as he is and this is not Diana. Therefore, Charles upcoming aria is joy, not duty: Camilla over Diana.
Just a glimpse into Charles’s point of Verdi; he was certainly influential figure on politics. Along with other political pieces, he’s signature politics reference lies in the ‘Nabucco'. The aria ‘Va, pensiero’ has seen as a metaphor for Italy’s situation when the aria the recalls the story of Jews who lost their home. There was an immediate reaction to the aria at the premiere. Although it was forbidden to repeat the arias, they had to repeat it to silence the audience. Still today, ‘Va, pensiero’ performed twice in every production as a tradition. Verdi had such a major role that there was a popular saying Viva Verdi (long live Verdi) with the sub-meaning of “Viva Vittorio Emanuele Re d’Italia” (Long Live Victor Emmanuel King of Italy’, which referred to Victor Emmanuel II, king of Italy since 1861). You can see the reference in La Forza del Destino by Paris Opera House in here.
At the end of the episode, we hear from La Traviata once again. Charles loses all hope of his dismissal of Diana when Anne also suggest that he should marry her. When Anne says ‘It should be written in the stars’, we hear the beginning of Act 1 Prelude. The story is now started; Charles has no escape, the opera begins inspire of the ending Charles knew from the beginning. As the overture continues, we see first the car approaching to house in the Scotland. Than we see the Thatcher’s photograph with the new cabinet which corresponds to the ‘Amami Alfredo’ part -where Violetto says goodbye to Alfredo after being forced to leave him- of the overture which I can see no connection at all. Later, we see the deer’s head getting its place at the wall and final shot is Diana followed by the press. It is a wonderful tune, very impressive but the connection is not clear hear. We can say it’s the beginning of journey for Diana and Thatcher. However, there is not one but two cuts to the overture and both of them on the Diana scene. As if they are just wanted to use their favourite parts of the overture.. It’s clear for me that it has no significant purpose and the music simple didn’t fit to the scene’s length, and they just choose their favourite parts of the overture in the price of leaping twice.
It is not the best example; it could have been much more amusing references. But it’s always a pleasure to see a popular series made people search for the wonderful tune they hear at the episode. If it made you one step closer to see and appreciate La Traviata, it is a major achievement.
First of all, is there anyone who doesn't like old movies? How interesting that once you aged (yes, I am aged now), you start to wonder how did I refused black and white movies all this time.. Now, I can't stand to watch most of the contemporary films.. Anyhow, even if you’re not fan of the ‘old’, I think Brahms and Ingrid Bergman are enough to bring you here as most of us.
At the first sequence, after the main three character’s introduced, you will see the posters for Brahms concert. Ingrid Bergman walks by it, but the frame sticks with it and the title of the film appears next to it. Even if you don’t know the French title of the film, this moment is your hint that Brahms will be important. The soundtrack accompanies the opening; camera following Ingrid Bergman, Paula, and gives us a wonderful gaze of Paris streets is sounds like Brahms but actually it’s the soundtrack by Auric inspired by Brahms. Music continues until Paula reaches her apartment.
At a wonderfully act dialogue between Paula and her maid gives us the main theme: she is pursuing an unhappy relationship with Roger for 5 years who often ignores her and openly involved with other girls. Paula, denying she’s unhappy, tries to convince herself her freedom worths more than a marriage. However, she clearly longs for attention which she founds in 15 years younger Philip.
Philip desperately follows her and at one time that he cannot find anything else to offer, he notices the Brahms poster by her side and asks her if she likes Brahms. Dazzled by the question, she cannot answer easily. She says that no one asked her to a concert for 17 years. It was 17 years ago, when she was in love and listened wonderful music with holding hands, bur she is not sure if it was Brahms. She doesn’t even remember if she liked it, it was so long ago. She refuses claiming (and believing) she will be busy at the weekend with Roger. She is polite but seems annoyed by the Philip’s insistence, but she didn’t even remember if she likes Brahms. She’s not herself, she gave up what she likes long ago (hello, unhealthy long relationships).
Philip encounters Roger and sees him with one of his ‘Maisie’s’ and understands his infidelity. But this is not 2020 where you do anything to get what you want. Let alone telling Paula, he even didn’t suggest anything to her. When he lingers to open the switch behind her and she stressed out by it, he simply leaves a message that says ‘Sorry for yesterday. Do you like Brahms?’. That sentence becomes something that connects them. Than, her maid asks ‘what is that Brahms?’ She is a lovely character who is rightfully angry about Roger and has a higher awareness of what’s going on than Paula even though she has a limited English and didn’t even know what Brahms is. Because we can enjoy even the most complicated arts, but we are often ignorant when it comes to our feelings and desires. Paula makes her put a record and says ‘those are Brahms’ accompanied by the 3rd movement of 3rd symphony.
She arrives to the concert place and you can hear orchestra preparing for the performance (actually means she was late). When they encounter Philip says ‘I’m glad you decided you liked Brahms’ but she responds ‘’Do I? I don’t really know’’. Than we saw them at the concert, piece is 1st symphony’s last movement the section that he inspired from Beethoven’s 9 symphony (you can actually hear Ode to Joy). She sees two soldiers in front of her that reminds her the day she met with Roger. She’s not present, not with Philip, not with the concert; she won’t be able to tell if she likes Brahms, she don’t want to know. She force herself to remember the good times because something about Philip makes her question her worth in Roger.
During intermission Philip manages to piss her off simply by asking ‘does he love you’. They hurry back to the concert and it already started. Even though they just missed the bell, 3rd movement of 3rd symphony is playing. It is not believable that they missed 20 minutes of the 2nd half, but this tune matches the feeling Paula felt when she starts to question everything, so we let it pass by. As Paula summarised that she had 5 years of happiness, doubt, warmth and pain, but only the happiness matters.
Same tune continues to play via radio in Roger’s car. When his ‘Maisie’ asks ‘what is that’ in a shocked manner (as if it was a Schoenberg), he says ‘’it’s Brahms’’. Shocked girl confused how come he knows it and he says ‘the announcer said so’’. She changed the channel while asking ‘Do you like it’. It is a very disappointed thing for him to like Brahms. She couldn’t find any other channel and Roger asks her to put it back. He enjoys it, but he won’t open himself to a ‘Maisie’. But he confesses that he wanted to be a conductor when he was eight. He clearly doesn’t enjoy the company of Maisie, it was just physical.
She feels very lonely at the apartment when Roger finally turns back to her. When hearing she was at the concert, he immediately asks ‘Do you like Brahms’ and this sentence shocks her (it is an inside joke now), she surprised by this question coming from Roger. She starts to explain that she couldn’t remember if she liked Brahms and that turns into a burst of complaints. She couldn’t hold it any longer. ‘Do I like Brahms, what’s my favourite colour, do I love you’; yes, our theory is confirmed. Her lack of knowledge about herself - a basic question about Brahms was very connected to the fact that she didn’t care for herself, so that she could ignore her loneliness.
When she tries with Roger again and tries to push Philip away, he goes to a bar when we hear the jazz, vocal version of the opening theme (based on 3rd- 3rd), ‘Say No More, It’s Goodbye’. Followed by a ‘Love Is Just A Word’ sang by Diahann Caroll, improvised upon the conversation they have about the meaning of the word ‘love’.
When she finally left Roger and be with Philip, does she do it because she loves Philip or did she just exhausted for being ignored and attached to the first attention she got? She tries to change Philip from the beginning. It’s no surprise we hear ‘Say No More, It’s Goodbye’ tune again when she dances with Philip. This tune (3rd-3rd in general) associated with loneliness and goodbyes. The tune started before she saw Roger.
Yes, Roger missed her. He even loves her in his own way that will be never enough for Paula. But she still hopes, as any one of us. They got married, Philip is heart-broken. And we’re at the opening sequence of Paula getting ready enthusiastically and phone rings with the news of Roger not coming. Again the closing theme (composed by Auric), starts to play by a plunked string, gets the crescendo and closes with the whole orchestra as Paula stares herself, her life spent alone.
Parasite, winner of this year's Palme d'Or, reached a quite big international success. While movie is basicly about the class difference, narrative manages to distinguish the movie from others. This black comic thriller has a big twist from an innocent comedy to a dark end, confusing audience to the end. Original soundtracks are composed by Jung Jaeil. But, don't be surprise to hear Handel in this masterpiece. While circumstances one by one were leading us to an inevitable tragedy, every little detail mattered. Just like the smelling of a lower class, gently placed detail quickly twisted the story, usage of Handel's opera 'Rodelinda' definitely has its own significance.
**Spoilers ahead ! :)
As the Kim family manages to make themselves hired one by one, audience were sensing the increasing suspence of getting caught. With Kim family's sympathy and Park family's naiveness, we weren't feeling guilty by the actions of Kim's. This feeling will be changed by the first twist of the cave men and later will be twisted again by the non-justifiable but understandable anger boost of the main character. But before these, we were still in the safe zone.
One of the most enjoyable scenes of the movie was the master plan that Kim family planned for the mother to get a job. In order to whole family to be part of the upper world, the plans get complicated along the way. Once an innocent lie became the master plan of accusing and hurting someone else. In order to still kept the audience on their side, a comic and wonderful master plan scene made us laugh. We were'nt alarmed. However, on the background an aria from Handel's opera ''Rodelinda'' was hinting us. “Spietati io vi giurai'' was playing at the background: Rodelinda swearing agains the cruel men. This was the prayer of the housekeeper, begging for her and her husband's wellness.
Cruel men, o hear me swear,
to my son I give my heart,
you may raise my grief and fear
but can never make me part.
Me that husband never shall
in his marriage bonds, enthral,
that has been my greatest foe,
only cause of all my woe.
The second time we hear Handel is at the birthday party at the end. This time, audience is super restless (still doesn't have a clue on what will happen), but since Park family who has no clue, at the background we hear ''Mio caro bene”, a joyful aria fitting into the birthday party sang the singer at the party. The happy background makes the audience even more tense, as expected. Still, the tenseness is for the secrets to come out, noone expected two deaths from both family.
While I embrace you, o embrace the child.
Thy sighs, thy sobs, my love give o ́er,
my heart is now, no longer, sore,
and grief and pain shall feel no more.
Seeing thee pleased,
has hush`d my care,
come to my breast, its pleasures share,
now love has fix`d his dwelling there.
Two different aria from Handel's Rodelinda cannot be a coincidence. This means not only the arias have meaning but the whole opera choice has a meaning, also. Rodelinda is about usurpation: Grimoaldo taking over the throne from Bertarido along with his wife and kid. However, at the end of the opera, everything turns back to normal. In 'Parasite', after all the events happened, nothing changed also. Kim family, now seperated, still lives at the same place. Park family is replaced by another wealthy family that has a 'ghost' in the basement. Not a happy ending like Rodelinda, but a status quo is protected. Maybe they were happy at the beginning after all ?
Schubert, Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D. 774
No question that this lied makes you google it :) I saw that after a quick search on the web that lots of people meet the tune on this film. It definitely has a 'film quality' in it. We hear the piece before in the films The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1986), Battle Royale (2000). Friedrich Leopold zu Stolberg-Stolberg's poem describes the passing time while describing the waves seen from a boat. The piano accompaniment resembles to the sound of waves.
We hear the tune when Natalie saying goodbye to the beach house. She doesn't ready to say goodbye, we know that. And suddenly a phone call that says her mother doesn't eat anything in the retirement home makes her rushly leave the house; interrupting her goodbye (because time passing by, hence the lyrics). She gets some flowers from the garden that she puts lots of afford, goes to the car, the music starts. Switches to the train, runs to the retirement home. Sees her mother and the music fades away. Why didn't we cut directly to the phone call to the mother? Why we went through this journey? Because it matters those moments. You can't just cut scenes in real life, and this movie is about a woman going through the stages of her life: losing her mother, losing her husband, daughter starting her own family, her favorite student getting different ideas than her etc. She went through some journey, that's why we are given the details of her journey with the most striking soundtrack of the film. We were seeing her passing the sea with a boat and time was passing in the meantime.
In the midst of the shimmering, mirroring waves
Glides like swans the rocking boat
Ah, on softly shimmering waves of joy
Glides the soul away like the boat.
For from the heavens down on the waves
Dances the evening glow round about the boat.
Above the treetops of the western glade
Beckons to us amiably the ruddy glow;
Under the branches of the eastern glade
Rustle the reeds in the ruddy glow.
Joy of the heavens and peace of the glades
Breathes the soul in the reddening glow.
Ah, with dewy wings
On the rocking waves, time escapes from me
Tomorrow with shimmering wings
Like yesterday and today may time again escape from me,
Until I on towering, radiant wings
Myself escape from changing time.
Woody Guthrie, My Daddy Flies a Ship In The Sky
This song features when Natalie was in the car with Fabian visiting her favorite student's mountain home. The use of music is diagetic (sound source visible on the screen) and they also talk about it. Fabian says he listened so many times this tune, then he sings along and show that he memorized it. During that talk, Natalie says she is open to new music and she's sick of Schumann and Brahms. This is very important (for me yes, my sirens go on when I hear composer names) because in the beginning of the film she was saying that she couldn't understand new music and criticise it. So she changed, she is free now. Her marriage is gone, her mother is gone, her children has their own lives, even the book contracts are gone. She is independent, she can visit Fabian where she was skeptical first she was hearing it. Now, she doesn't want Brahms or Schumann, she searches for new things. Or at least, she thinks she is.
Donovan, Deep Peace
She comes to Fabian's place for the second time. At night, he listens some music very deeply in the home, we couldn't hear the music entirely but it is diagetic music. But the scene changes into the landscape scenes and music's volume increases and the lyrics become more understandable (because it's source changed from a old recorder at home to non-diegetic). This way it becomes non-diegetic (characters in the film don't hear it at this point.)
The Fleetwoods, Unchained Melody
After we see Natalie chanting a lulliby to her grand-daughter, we see the parts of home with the a capella version of 'Unchained Melody'. There should be a reason to use this populer tune here, in a movie about philosophy. It is not The Righteous Brothers but The Fleetwoods, a capella version of the song. It creates a wonderful send off. It is not a usual love story or happiness or a future of a woman that turned better etc. It is just another version of our lives, simple as it is, different, but still lovely.
End credits turns to Schubert again and left the viewers confused and disappointed on their limited knowledge of philosophy.
Well. I just finished Mad Men.. and you may guess that I cannot continue to my life normally anymore :) Before rewatching it, I have to prepare a post dedicated to the soundtracks.. because come on, I had to do it. Other than the stories, characters, true advertising stories, costumes, attitudes (is there anything left?); the usage of music was extraordinary. It took us to the real environment of music industry of that time with smooth and not obvious references (Mad Men is all about this, after all). I strongly recommend to listen and learn the every piece of Mad Men by clicking here, but here is my favorite moments.
Classical Music Usage
Mozart - The Marriage of Figaro
When the episode's name is Mozart's famous opera 'The Marriage of Opera', you already get excited :) We see the pieces from the opera from the radio during the Sally's birthday party. we hear the duet 'Cinque, Dieci, Venti' from Act 1 and the aria 'Voi Che Sapete Che Cosa È Amor' from Act 2. As it can be just coincidence to hear it from the radio, I think its being the title of the episode has a deeper meaning. In Sally's party, the focus was Helen Bishop, an outsider due to her failed marriage. We see Betty critisizing her, but we know that she will get divorced later, also. So, everything that seems okay in The Barber of the Seville will be turn around differently in The Marriage of Figaro. It can be one of the first hints of the failure of Don and Betty's marriage.
Background: The Marriage of The Figaro (Mozart) is a continuation of the story of the Rossini's famous opera The Barber of The Seville. The male main character falls in love and saves her from her protegee in The Barber of The Seville, tries to sleep with his housemaid in The Marriage of Figaro.