Alphabetical Movie – Ladyhawke
I like Ladyhawke but it is hampered by one of the worst movie trends of the 1980’s.
I’m talking, of course, about the 80’s synthtrack.
Bad in the best of films, having pulsing 80’s synthesizer music play over a medieval fantasy love story is just about as painful as the re-tuned version of “Losing my Religion.”
I know there are some music nerds out there crying out “but it’s Alan Parson’s man!” I say to you I like Alan Parsons. I even like the soundtrack to Ladyhawke. I just don’t like it as the soundtrack for Ladyhawke.
The 80’s sythtrack really didn’t work for anything so it is unfair to call out this one film for something that ruined all manner of 80’s films from Legend to Wall Street.
I’m being unfair, of course, Legend was ruined long before anyone added a sythtrack. Calm down, Tim Curry is awesome in the film. The rest of the movie is a public service announcement for why you shouldn’t drop acid.
The synthtrack came about, I assume, because studio bean counters saw how much it cost to hire a full orchestra to produce a score and they figure a synthesizer sounded just like a whole orchestra. Only it was a lot cheaper because one guy could do the whole thing!
You want to know how much this trend hurt movies? I want you to think about Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Think about the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring with Galadriel’s ethereal voice telling us of the history of the one ring. Now imagine that it is underscored with music by the Eurhythmics.
Hyperbole, you say? Alan Parsons wrote The Eye in the Sky. And then he wrote the score for a medieval fantasy!
Imagine “The Eye in the Sky” playing as the Bat Signal is revealed at the end of Batman Begins.
It isn’t that the song is bad. The song just doesn’t fit.
I realize our lives don’t have soundtracks so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to complain about realism in a synthesizer track but I just want all of us to look back at the 80’s and wonder why someone would listen to the Thompson Twins and conclude that they might write a kickin’ cinematic score.
At some point, someone is going to throw Danny Elfman in my face and I will admit that yes, the guy has written some spectacular scores. Most of those scores uses sythesizers at lesat a little bit.
Well, much as I enjoyed the music of the Thompson Twins, I think that hindsight tells us there is a pretty major gulf between the Thompson Twins and Oingo Boingo.
No, The Thompson Twins never wrote an 80’s sythtrack. The could have, though, and it would not have sounded any more out of place in Ladyhawke than something by Alan Parsons.
Soundtracks are unnatural. We don’t spend our lives backed by an orchestral score. So why complain that a synthtrack is unrealistic when any score is, on some level, unrealistic?
Because we all want the score to our lives to be epic! And there is an epic quality to Ladyhawke that is completely undermined by the score, which sounds thin and unambitious. This is a movie about man against the devil and it sounds like he’s getting ready for his senior prom. The theme of which is probably “Eye in the Sky.”
Looking back on the trend now, I can’t figure out how I wasn’t as bothered by the it while it was happening. Maybe I was too used to 80’s sythpop to realize it was out-of-place in a film.
Or maybe I didn’t understand that the music sets the mood and the mood being set by the Ladyhawke score was completely at odds with the dark and dangerous world the script created.
The human race is guilty of far worse sins than the 80’s sythtrack.
But that doesn’t stop me from wishing Howard Shore had scored Ladyhawke.