As a rule, film score classical music is used as a shorthand: Handel indicates that the snobs have arrived, Mahler that someone is about to die, but not before pouting about it, and Wagner is a sure sign that big trouble's a-brewing. This cultural semaphore system was established in the silent-film era, when no monster worth his salt would dream of making his entrance without the accompaniment of Bach's Toccatta and Fugue in D or something equally theatrical by Liszt. The tradition continues today: Vivaldi's ludicrously overplayed Four Seasons invariably indicates that the stuffed shirts are having brunch; Beethoven's Ode to Joy announces that Armageddon may be just around the corner; and anytime an aria by Verdi, Bellini or Puccini is heard, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone is going to get raped, stabbed, blinded, buried alive or impaled.
Friday, 5 October 2007
In The Guardian Joe Queenan concisely explains the use of Classical music in movies: