Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I'd Rather Be A Hammer Than A Nail In The Wild

The movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. The movie is based off of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild is a biographical drama that views Cheryl Strayed as a woman who is trying to find herself on the Pacific Crest Trail. The soundtrack, which was supervised by Susan Jacobs, contains fifteen songs that are played throughout the movie. One significant part of the movie Wild is the various genres of music on top of the iconic artists who perform the songs. The soundtrack consists of artists such as Simon and Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, First Aid Kit, Leonard Cohen, and many more talented artists.


A song from the soundtrack that stuck out most for me as a viewer was Simon and Garfunkel’s, “El Condor Pasa (If I Could).” Simon and Garfunkel are a world renowned folk rock duo and having their song play establishes great credibility to the movie. The book Everything’s an Argument writes, “Ethos creates a quick and sometimes almost irresistible connections between readers and arguments.” (42). In this case, the movie created the connections and as a viewer I was sold when I heard Simon and Garfunkel’s song would be played in Wild.  An example of Logos can be because of the song being originally composed by a Peruvian. El Condor Pasa can be translated to, “The condor passes.” The condor symbolizes freedom which Reese Witherspoon’s character is searching for throughout the movie.  

Throughout the movie, El Condor Pasa (If I Could) is played piece by piece, fitting each scene precisely. The song can be heard five different times from the beginning of the movie until the end. The song is first heard after the opening scene when Cheryl Strayed is perched on the top of a mountain. She is examining her nail hanging off of her big toe and to her dismay knows that the only way of relieving it is ripping it off. She takes in a deep breath and mumbles the words, “I’d rather be a hammer than a nail.” That line is from the lyrics of El Condor Pasa and creates the idea of a woman who is trying to find herself and become stronger. The lyric describes her as someone who is not beaten, or in that case nailed down. Reese Witherspoon letting out a screech of pain and tears of anger, rips off the toenail and the opening melody beings to play as “Wild” appears on the screen, and what follows are flashbacks that display scenes of sex and drugs, a definition of the word “strayed”, a fox, and her mother. This turns a scene filled with hurt and anger from Reese Witherspoon into a non-climatic opening.

The song is used to strike a memory. Whenever the song is played a memory or flashback is displayed upon the screen. The movie’s main argument for using El Condor Pasa was to spark the emotional appeal of Pathos to the viewer. They did this by generating a viewer’s emotion to the song when played throughout the film.

The Second time “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” can be heard is around the fourteenth minute of the movie, and it is only played for a brief moment. The melody begins to play right as she crushes a plant between her palms and smells the scents, something she had a memory of her mother doing. Though a flashback is not portrayed on the screen, the song being played while she is smelling the plant holds true to the fact that when a memory is evoked to the character, it begins to play.

El Condor Pasa (If I Could) having played two times makes the viewer realize that it holds great importance and reminds the viewer to pay special attention.

After a rather long time waiting for my favorite song to play, it reappears full force at 1:05:50 to the flashback of her running into the hospital room to see her mother dead, and past scenes of her hiking and doing drugs and even a scene of her as a child. The song stirs up emotions not only for the character but for the audience. The movie has created pathos through the use of this special song. The audience has now built a relationship with the character and the song evokes sadness for the hard life that Reese Witherspoon had growing up. The song continues and breaks out in lyrics for the first time. It was a buildup of anticipation for the viewer and as the lyrics are being sung to the reader the flashbacks become more detailed.

The song portrays freedom and finding ones-self and she is not able to do that without using the song to delve deep into past experiences. The song has now developed a never-ending relationship with the flashback scenes and the song together, which gives me a reason to give the soundtrack 5 stars.

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