Another Top 5 segment from The MacGuffin. This time Allen and Edward share their top 5 film scores.
No other genre evokes a sense of place better than the western. You have vast rolling hills, expansive barren deserts, horses, hats and pistols, and sleepy towns where sheriffs and robbers shoot it out to the death. It’s a world long since passed, where those with gold and guns dictated the law. What I find so fascinating about westerns is that they are a representation of a place that once was—with people who perhaps lived lives that were similar to the ones we read about in folk stories, or watch in the movies. Survival and the hope of prosperity drove people toward these places, and motivated those who wanted to steal their way to a better life. There are a handful of great movies set in the Wild West, but very few have reached the plateau of Sergio Leone’s epic, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).
Ask me what it is about movies I love so much, and I’ll tell you to see Cinema Paradiso (1988) for your answer. This Italian film, written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, is one of the great showcases for the magic that movies can provide. It’s not so much a film that you should see if you are a movie lover; it a film that you must see. We follow a young boy in a small village, witness his friendship with a sweet and kind projectionist, and understand how this child’s love affair with the movies would eventually shape who he would become as a man. It is lovely, nostalgic, and dripping with sentiment, but in the best way possible. All the fun, enjoyment, thrills, and amazement that come with falling in love with the movies is captured in almost every frame. The movie was made for movie fans, and to not find joy in it would be to turn against everything they stand for.
There is a kind of mood in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978) that draws us in without ever explicitly revealing itself. A kind of feeling, or a certain kind of tone, pervades every moment of the film; we can sense it without really specifying what it is. Could it be the result of the great cinematography by Nestor Almendros and Haskell Wexler? Or is it the haunting score by Ennio Morricone? Perhaps it is the philosophical approach Malick takes toward this material, regarding man’s relationship with man, or man’s spiritual relationship with nature? Maybe it is a combination of all these factors, but what makes this film brilliant is how, while having the ability to draw us in, it still keeps us at arm’s length. We watch the story unfold at a distance, like a silent voyeur. And in this way, Malick crafted a film resembling that of a loving memory; like a time and place that has long passed that we wish to somehow return to.