I’m feeling as hazy and scattered as a writer cliche gets just two hours before deadline, but what keeps me going is recalling the semi-religious feeling I had last night watching the opening credits to what is sure to go down as the party movie of the year: Zombieland.
Its use of Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” over slo-mo, hyper-violent visuals of zombies and gore made me feel, appropriately enough, more alive than I had all week. Judging by the rest of the rowdy crowd reaction at the Vista theater, something universal was attained in the marriage of sight and sound.
Music has its place in every facet of life, and improves most if not all situations whether it be screaming at you from an epic performance at the Forum, or distorting from the shitty car radio you couldn’t afford to upgrade after converting your Mercedes-Benz to run on vege oil. But when music covers a scene in a film successfully, its power to get the heart racing while you, essentially, sit and do nothing is remarkable for its own reasons all together.
Metallica didn’t just set a tone for the film, but also for the audience. I’m willing to bet 9.5 people out of 10 heard “For Whom The Bell Tolls” before and already loved it, but hearing the song with a wholly original visual revitalized it, gave it new meaning, and created the adrenaline rush one needs to watch almost two hours worth of flying blood and guts. Oddly, it was like hearing the song for the first time, yet it’s familiarity helped stir an already positive feeling.
There’s at least 9,781,347,201,239 other examples of stellar film soundtrack decisions throughout history (what I still think of as the most influential amongst the independently-minded is pictured above), but what I’m getting at here is the utter beauty of witnessing and experiencing somebody else’s visual interpretation of a song. We may not come to understand somebody else on a personal level because of how they imagine a song to look like (who knows and who cares if Quentin Tarantino fantasizes about cutting off somebody’s ear to Stealers Wheel, for example) but we can have a shared, collective experience that is entirely meaningful nonetheless. Obviously, a filmmaker’s goals extend beyond titilizing an audience with music, but sitting down in a theater and allowing music to affect us in such a way is an experience that doesn’t necessarily come first to mind for such an aural art form–but I’m willing to argue that it’s equally important,
and will probably become more so given the evolving visual mediums of video games and new media.
I really hope nobody dismisses zombie movies as anti-intellectual.