The sports comedy, Nacho Libre, is not a comedy for everyone. When it first came out in 2006 it received many mixed reviews, some critics even claimed that it paled in comparison to Napoleon Dynamite (both films were written by Jared and Jerusha Hess). I however, loved the movie. Frankly, my stomach hurts from laughing every time I watch it. You may think I am easily entertained—or that I just don’t understand comedy—and that’s okay.
I may be in the minority when saying I thought the movie was hilarious, but I think that it’s safe to say I am in the majority by claiming the soundtrack of Nacho Libre was actually pretty good. A movie soundtrack is supposed to add to the movie by enhancing the viewers experience, inducing emotions, and so much more.
Overall, what I think made the soundtrack so great was that the songs helped to shape the mood and the tone of the movie. The first instance of this has to do with the cultural notes of the music. As Understanding Movies “Sound” states, “Certain kinds of music can suggest locales, classes, or ethnic groups” (214). Danny Elfman—who wrote most of the songs on the soundtrack—used music as ethos when he kept in mind the ethnic and cultural themes of the movie. The movie is set in Mexico, and Elfman’s music often used instruments and tempos that are associated with this country. For example, the music often used trumpets and guitars which added to the cultural mood of the movie. The music didn't simply reflect cultural themes, it also added drama and emotion to many scenes in the movie.
There are two specific scenes I chose to analyze that I believe used music as ethos, pathos, and logos. The first scene that I analyzed was the scene towards the end of the movie where Ignacio (Nacho) finally gets to fight Ramses in order to win money for the orphans. As Nacho and Ramses are walking up to the ring, dramatic music causes anticipation and stress to viewers. The music tempo and pace puts viewers on edge, appealing to their pathos or emotions. In this way, the music added drama to a comedy and set up the big fight scene.
When the fight begins, it becomes clear that Nacho is a bit in over his head. To put it nicely, let's just say that he is not winning the wresting match. Eventually, Ramses has his foot on Nacho's neck, and the dramatic music goes quiet. This change in music seems to make an argument that hope is lost and Nacho is going to be beaten by Ramses. However, there is a moment of silence, angelic music begins to play, and then Nacho lays eyes on his love interest (Sister Encarnación) and the orphans, who have come to watch his in the wresting match.
This seems to fuel Nacho with emotion and strength, as he shoves Ramses off of himself and jumps back up. As Nacho does this, the classic song "Hombre Religioso" begins to play. I say classic because this song was played at the very beginning of the movie, and multiple times during the movie. Using this song as Nacho overtakes Ramses appeals to the viewers pathos and logos. It appeals to pathos/emotions because as the dramatic music stops we are filled with suspense, and as "Hombre Religioso" plays we begin to have hope in Nacho again. The song begins to get faster and faster as Nacho beats Ramses, evoking triumphant feelings in viewers. The song also appealed to logos because it seems to logically symbolize the growth of Nacho. Since it was played at the beginning of the movie and now towards the end, it helps us to see how far Ignacio has come and highlights journey of becoming the luchador Nacho.
The second scene that utilizes music to add to the film is at the very end, when the orphans are riding on the bus that Nacho has bought for them (since he won the big wresting match). Nacho is driving Sister Encarnación, Eskeleto, and the orphans as music plays in the background. The song is called "Saint Behind the Glass" and it has slow singing, but a fast tempo the background. This causes it to appeal to pathos as it evokes happiness in the viewers; especially since the tone of the song matches the happiness of the scene.
The whole scene is touching, but the music adds takes it to another level and simply makes me smile. It ties the whole film together, as Nacho has finally become the luchador he always dreamed of; all while helping the orphans whom he loves deeply. All in all, the music of this scene really tied the film together and provoked our emotions. I mean, who could be sad leaving a movie that is all about someone achieving their dreams and helping orphans?
This soundtrack was "DE BEST!" It got us nervous for the big fight, had us cheering for Nacho to beat Ramses, and pulled our heartstrings. Overall I would give it a 4 nacho rating, because it added a lot to each scene, but it wasn't life changing. People who watch the movie will probably have the soundtrack stuck in their head for weeks, but it is not as recognizable as some other huge movie sagas. However, David Elfman did a pretty great job making the music cultural correct, fun, and emotional. Not everyone may find this movie funny, but the soundtrack was successful in provoking emotion and helping us to better understand each scene of the film. I believe that the movie and the soundtrack were both fantastic.