Sci-fi films show affinity for using classical music

Posted on: July 9, 2012

In Saturday’s (7/7) Los Angeles Times, David Ng writes, “In space, no one can hear you scream—but everyone can hear the classical music loud and clear. Science-fiction movies have had a long affinity for classical music, and the relationship is a fascinating and complex one. In ‘Prometheus,’ Ridley Scott’s quasi-prequel to ’Alien,’ the soundtrack choices are by no means random. Like many sci-fi films before it, ‘Prometheus’ deploys classical music as a kind of cinematic shorthand to signify the presence of a highly evolved intelligence. The trick is knowing whether that intelligence is benign or malevolent—or perhaps some of both. One of the movie’s recurring images shows a young girl playing the violin. It’s the centerpiece of a digital hologram that Weyland Industries has beamed into outer space to demonstrate the achievements of mankind. Like the real-life Voyager probe, which is carrying many classical pieces into space, the hologram is intended to reach intelligent alien life—and to demonstrate our own intelligence and creativity. … In the sci-fi genre, Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is ground zero when it comes to the use of classical music. … Steven Spielberg’s ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ also uses a five-note musical structure to signify a highly evolved intelligence.”

Posted July 9, 2012