Watch a movie without the sound, and it can become almost completely emotionless. Watch a movie with the sound, but no music, and the same could be said. We almost forget how important the score of a film can be if it's subtracted from the equation. Imagine watching the opening to Star Wars and seeing the main title and written sequence roll by. That entire section is dominated by a heroic fanfare, and without it, that excitement dissipates. It's just words going across a screen.
The San Francisco Symphony has recently introduced an "At The Movies" type of performance happening with select films throughout the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. In essence, you show up, a popular movie is screened, but there's a catch: the film is accompanied by a LIVE score produced by the San Francisco Symphony. The first film to kick off the 2015-2016 series was Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, directed by Henry Selick.
The Nightmare Before Christmas has always been one of my favorite films, ever since I was a child. To say that watching this film with a live score was astonishing is a severe understatement. The film, while exciting to watch at home, almost had a new life injected into it with the live music aspect attached to it. There were moments when I forgot that the symphony was even there, not just because I was sucked back into the classic film, but because it sounded so impeccable. At the same time, you could tell that it was live based on little variations throughout the performance (maybe a section sped up or slowed down just a tiny bit) but it made for an incredibly surreal experience.
An astounding aspect of this film viewing was noticing just how much music was inserted throughout Nightmare. It is in literally every moment of the film, give or a take a few very short speaking moments. The music completely sets the tone for every single scene, carrying a huge amount of the film, almost as if it's another member of the cast.
The relationship between film and its music is completely evident, and the San Francisco Symphony have done an immaculate job at illustrating their pairing.
The score, originally written for the film by Danny Elfman, was conducted throughout the evening by composer Joshua Gersen, and included one brief intermission between acts.
Be sure to visit www.sfsymphony.org to find out about their upcoming film/symphony screenings for 2016, including Vertigo and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.