AVATAR“With or without lyrics, music can be more specific when juxtaposed with film images.” (Giannetti 214). It is no surprise that film and music go together to impact audiences in specific ways, but what is surprising is the pure amount of detail and attention given to the score choices. Music can set the tone through the arousal of pathos, identify a movie with ethos or even give the audience a sense of genre with logos. The decisions made by the producers regarding the pairing of music and film can either make or break a film.
The film Avatar had a completely fresh film score. The Director made a conscious decision to create a specific ethos for the African inspired culture of the Na’vi. Music carries many appeals, but the Na’vi culture was completely original which proved to be a challenge to the composers. “Since no Na’vi culture exists, we had to create a convincing atmosphere in the absence of the two principal sources for achieving musical color in the film: indigenous musical material and culturally identifiable musical devices’” (Bryant 1). They were successful.
The scene, Avatar Flight with the Mountain Banshees, features Jake finding and pairing with his new dragon counterpart, also called a banshee. The producer chose not to include music during his struggle with the banshee, but rather to incorporate a peaceful interlude when he manages to control the banshee he is now calling his own. The music continually builds as he flies around the floating mountains and erupts when his soon to be love, Neytiri, joins him in flight. The soundtrack is accompanied by a chorus of voices and dramatic strings and chanting which alludes to the praising done in African and Amazonian cultures. When the music develops the films well-known tune, the actual action sounds (wind rushing, water flowing, vocal chanting) stop and the two riders ride off into the distance resulting in a feeling of peace.
The final scene of the movie when Jake Sully is being transported from his own body into that of his surrogate Avatar body, the song Evening Falls by ENYA comes on. There is a dramatic pause after the entire community of Avatar is chanting followed by a suspenseful flute. The scene zooms into Jake Sully’s Avatar eyes and they open to two strong beats of the drum. This suspenseful movement adds tension to the watching eyes of the audience as we do not know if the transfer will be successful.
I believe that the arguments being made in both scenes are that of acceptance. The producers want the audience to know that the dramatic score followed by a peaceful ending suggests acceptance. They are extremely convincing and receive a grand emotional response from viewers.
Http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVI_pf6-7eJhG7J4QOV-tiQ. "Avatar Ending Eye Open Scene." YouTube. YouTube, 29 Sept. 2016. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.
RoundxSeal. "Avatar Flight with the Mountain Banshees." YouTube. YouTube, 03 Oct. 2015. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.
Understanding Movies. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999. Print.