Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Great Scott! That's a Good Soundtrack

Any back to the future fan knows the famous scene of Marty McFly playing guitar at his parents’ high school dance in 1955. After successfully getting his parents together, he tells the band to “try and keep up” before playing Chuck Berry’s famous song, Johnny B. Goode. This song choice utilizes ethos since it is such a well-known and loved song. Of course this song did not come out until 1958, so everyone is hearing it for the first time. The song serves as a celebration of Marty’s success in getting his parents together. It is a good use of logos since it fits well with the scene of a 1950s high school dance where everyone is having fun and dancing in very 50s style. It also serves as a break from the suspense and action. Marty is pressed for time trying to get his parents together and go back to 1985 in time. The suspense makes the audience stressed, so the Johnny B. Goode scene allows for the audience to relax for a while before jumping back into the action. The song uses pathos to create a fun and celebratory mood. The scene starts off with everyone having a good time and loving the music. Towards the end of the song, Marty breaks out into a heavy metal style guitar solo while going crazy on stage. The band stops playing and the mood of the scene changes from everyone having a good time to everyone stopping and staring in astonishment. This adds a comedic aspect but also allows the scene to transition from a light hearted break back into the action.

After this scene, Marty goes back to Doc to finish their plan to get Marty back to 1985. This is the most suspenseful scene of the film as there are many things that need to align perfectly, but there are several things that go wrong. The music of this scene does a good job of using pathos to create this suspenseful mood and make the audience feel anxious for the protagonist. The music is composed by Alan Silvestri specifically for this film. This is a good use of ethos because since it is composed specifically for this film, it becomes so recognizable. When you hear this song, you immediately associate it with Back to the Future. The scene begins with Doc explaining the plan, and the music starts off slow and quiet with a rhythmic drum beat. The music slowly starts to pick up pace and get louder, creating a suspenseful effect and reminding us of the time pressure. In the middle of this, a branch falls on a cable that is important for their plan. When this happens, the drum beat stops and the music changes to a shriller sound, creating suspense. In addition, there are sounds of the thunderstorm in the background reminding us of the impending storm that is imperative to the plan. This use of logos lets us know for sure that this is an action scene. As the scene progresses, the music increases in intensity and volume, as does the sounds of the thunderstorm and the bell in the clock tower. These sounds become less of background music and more at the forefront of the scene. They take over the scene so much that Marty and Doc can barely hear each other. The music changes frequently as Marty and Doc solve problems, only for new problems to occur. When things go right, the music becomes more triumphant and the recognizable theme music plays. When things go wrong, the music becomes darker, shriller and adds to the suspense and danger. The scene frequently switches between these two, creating suspense and pushing the scene forward. The scene ends with the car disappearing as Marty travels forward in time. As soon as the car is gone, the music stops. The suspense is over and the plan is successful. The end of the music allows the audience to breathe and be relieved.

The music of this film does a good job of creating the intended mood of each scene. The music certainly pushes the action scenes forward while creating suspense, but still allows for breaks in the action. This is why I am giving the soundtrack a 5 nacho rating.

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