Narratives of Infidelity and Revenge: Euripides’ Medea vs. Gone Girl

Narratives of Infidelity and Revenge: Euripides’ Medea vs. Gone Girl

Narratives of Infidelity and Revenge: Euripides’ Medea vs. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Disclaimer: I have not seen the 2014 movie Gone Girl just yet – this review is based on the book alone. Warning for sensitive readers – the novel contains graphic sexual imagery and quite a bit of profanity. In this review, I am analyzing the story and not critiquing the content; however, quotes used in this review were carefully chosen to avoid these aspects while still giving weight to the argument.

One of my New Years’ resolutions that I’m striving to uphold is to get back into reading more. I used to read book after book but last semester I found it hard to keep up the habit.

So last week I went to the library and picked up some books to read, and incidentally ended up choosing the novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The book had been recommended to me by a friend so I decided to give it a shot.

Coincidentally (or incidentally, I’m not sure which is more appropriate), my theater class this semester kicked off by reading the play Medea by the Greek playwright Euripides.

We all volunteered to read for characters, and I volunteered to read for the role of Medea. I was about halfway through Gone Girl at this point.

When I got back to my dorm that night and picked up the book again before going to bed, it suddenly hit me that these two narratives, written over two thousand years apart from each other, deal with the same basic concept – what would a woman do if she found out her husband was cheating on her? To what lengths would she go?

Now, if it was me (and hopefully I would never end up in this situation), I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t go as far as trying to kill my husband/children/husband’s girlfriend/whoever else gets in the way as the characters, Medea and Amy Dunne, do, but it still begs the question: If I was placed in a situation like that, how would I react?

I’ve known the story of Jason and Medea at least since I became fascinated with Greek mythology around the age of 11 or 12, and it’s interesting reading for Medea, knowing the monster of a character she is, and ending up sympathizing with her position a little.

As a reader, I can’t sympathize with either main character – Jason or Medea – because both characters have committed grevious wrongs and have not repented of them. They still believe what they did was right and their ego or their anger gets in the way of truly realizing the horror of what they have done.

And the same goes for Nick and Amy in Gone Girl.

Without giving away the plot of the book entirely, I was rooting for Amy for most of the first half of the book, especially when I found out Nick had been cheating on her. But then Amy’s true character starts to be revealed and I start to side with Nick a little. By the end of the book, however, I’m shaking my head at both of them. I can’t pick a side here. Both characters are in the wrong.

The interesting thing here is, though I can’t condone the characters’ actions, their motives and emotions are easy to understand. Medea is upset at how women are treated in her time, like possessions and trophies instead of people:

“Of all Earth’s creatures that live and breathe,

Are we women not the wretchedest?

We scratch and save, a dowry to buy a man –

And then he lords it over us: we’re his,

Our lives depend on how his lordship feels.

For better for worse: we can’t divorce him.

However he turns out, he’s ours and ours he stays.

– Medea, Euripides

And Amy Dunne has a similar rant in Gone Girl – a different era, a slightly different situation, but the same idea:

“You don’t ever want to be the wife who keeps her husband from playing poker – you don’t want to be the shrew with the hair curlers and the rolling pin. So you swallow your disappointment and say okay.”

Gone Girl, Pg. 157

Now, I’m not saying that I agree with these generalized definitions of men in these passages, but I do agree that both women are in the sort of situation where their husband is that type of man to them. And it’s easy to be bitter. It’s easy to want to get out, to plot revenge against them. And the women in these stories go incredibly far.

One thing my theater professor kept polling the class about was whose side were they on: Jason’s or Medea’s? Are you Team Jason or Team Medea? And I didn’t raise my hand for either one. Because the other side of this issue, the flip side, is just as bad because the characters’ reaction goes WAY too far, to the point of murder.

Yes, Jason and Nick cheated on their wives. In Medea, Jason doesn’t even repent of it. He makes excuses instead, about needing more sons and wanting status to protect her and the children. It makes me sick just reading it. He doesn’t care about her at all, it’s obvious.

In Gone Girl, Nick realizes that he did wrong and sincerely repents of it, but then grows bitter at what his wife is doing to him and the pendulum swings the wrong way. Now he wants to reveal her as the murdering deceiver she is, send her to jail and make her pay for exposing him and plotting against him. But he’s now also afraid of her, of what she might do to him.

Medea and Amy have a right to be angry, to be upset, to feel like they need to do something about it. The problem is, they deal with that anger in the wrong way and lash out. They use their intellect and cleverness not in trying to make it right, but in getting revenge.

Medea, describing her plot to kill the princess Glauce, Jason’s lover, and Glauce’s father, Creon, and eventually her and Jason’s own two children, to deprive Jason of everything he’s ever loved:

“Evil, evil on every side,
But watch and see.
Unhappy times await that happy pair,
And all who fawn on them.
D’you think I’d have crawled to him,
Pleaded with him, touched him,
If I’d not had secret plans?
The fool could have banished me today
And aborted my revenge. Instead,
I have one whole long day. One day
To make all three cold meat:
Father, daughter – and that man I hate.”

Medea, euripides

And Amy, fed up with her husband’s attitude and behavior:

“It’s rather extreme, framing your husband for your murder. I want you to know that I know that. All the tut-tutters out there will say: She should have just left, bundled up what remained of her dignity. Take the high road! Two wrongs don’t make a right! All those things that spineless women say, confusing their weakness with morality….”
But it’s so very necessary. Nick must be taught a lesson. He’s never been taught a lesson! He glides through life with that charming-Nicky grin, his beloved-child entitlement, his fibs and shirkings, his shortcomings and selfishness, and no one calls him on anything. I think this experience will make him a better person. Or at least a sorrier one.”

Gone Girl, pg. 234-35

Suffice it to say, neither of the stories end well for any of the characters. Not a single character is unaffected. The moral we can take from these stories is to stay far away from the cancer that is vengeance. The Bible is very clear on this:

“Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written: Vengeance is mine,
I will repay, says the Lord.

Romans 12:19

So what are we to do instead? You know what the answer is, turn the other cheek. The problem is that’s it’s been used so often it’s become cliche, and that’s a shame because it is just as relevant today as it was when it was written, as evidenced by these two stories.

All the evidence tells us that revenge is a bad idea. It never fixes anything. You can punch a bully in the nose and rejoice over the temporary feeling it gives you, but in the end it never helps. We risk exacerbating the problem, or worse, becoming a bully ourselves.

In fact, I just watched a Supernatural episode (After School Special, Series 4) that involves that very thing: Sam, in high school, defended a friend against a bully by fighting back and winning; but the bully ended up becoming the bullied one and killed himself.

It’s a vicious cycle – one that can never be escaped unless someone has the guts to realize what’s going on and take a step back. And lest you think that turning the other cheek involves becoming a doormat to keep the peace, Scripture has a slightly more proactive approach. Here’s the next two verses:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In so doing, you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

Do not be conquered by evil; but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:20-21

Basically, the only way to reverse the cycle is to turn it around. Not only turning the other cheek, but also to do good to those who hurt you. It might not be easy, it might not be pleasant, you might not even see lasting benefits, but if you’re not perpetuating the cycle, the buck stops with you.

Ever heard the phrase, “Be the change you want to see in the world”? This is your chance. Don’t be like Medea. Don’t be like Amy. Revenge isn’t best served hot or cold. Healing begins when you decide to take God’s advice and leave the vengeance up to Him.

Leave a comment below to tell me what your opinion is on these two narratives – have you read them before? Did you side with one character or the other? What would have been your reaction? Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to have revenge on someone? What did you do?

My 2019 List of Upcoming Media

My 2019 List of Upcoming Media

My 2019 List of Upcoming Media

Hey everyone! Since its the beginning of the year I thought I’d update everyone on the books, TV shows, and movies coming out this year that are on my radar. I’ll see how many of these I can catch (and possibly write about) through the year and I’ll come back to this post in December and see how much I accomplished.

Some of these I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while, others I just discovered in my search for new things coming out this year. Either way, here’s my list and I hope you find something that interests you!

If you have something I should add to my list, let me know in the comments!

It would be a very long post if I introduced each item on here, so I decided to just list their names and release dates for now. Links lead to the trailers for the movies and shows. If there’s no link, that means the trailer isn’t out yet.

Movies:

  • Spiderman: Far from Home (July 5)
  • Cats (December 20 – based on the musical)
  • Inversion (release date TBD)
  • Boss Level (release date TBD)

TV Shows:

  • Good Omens (first half of the year, release date TBD)
  • The War of the Worlds (later in the year, release date TBD)

Doctor Who series 12 doesn’t look like it will be coming out until 2020.

Books:

  • The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini (sequel to the Inheritance Cycle)
  • Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
  • Mind Games by Shana Silver
  • Dragon Ghosts by Lisa McMann (Book 3 of the Unwanteds Quests)
  • We Walked the Sky by Lisa Feidler
  • The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix (first book the the Greystone Secrets series)
  • The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick
  • Time Jumpers by Brandon Mull (Book 5 of the Five Kingdoms series)
  • Invisible by Andrew Grant

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I feel like my TV shows list is kinda small, though of course I’m not counting the shows that are not coming out this year or that are releasing new seasons but I haven’t seen the previous seasons yet.

If you have anything else you think I should be interested in, mention it in the comments and I shall be eternally grateful (I feel since I mentioned Toy Story I had to say that).

My Top 10 Fandom Christmas Posts 2018

My Top 10 Fandom Christmas Posts 2018

My Top 10 Fandom Christmas Posts 2018

Merry Christmas, everyone! For this post I decided to pick my top 10 favorite Christmas posts off Pinterest and Tumblr to share with you guys. Most are fandom-related, some aren’t. I’ll try to be fair – one post per fandom. I won’t let Doctor Who hog all the glory, even though it has so many of the best Christmas memes. Let me know in the comments what you think of my picks, and if you have any other memes you’d like to share!

Let’s get started!

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This meme is from the Christmas episode Voyage of the Damned, and my brain was doing the same thing as the Doctor’s face while hearing Mr. Copper’s wildly extravagant rendition of our Christmas escapades.

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Most of the time, I don’t get the fascination with text posts involving the young versions of characters, but this one is so stinking cute I had to make an exception. And the fact that it doesn’t involve Johnlock (which I do not ship and which there are a bajillion posts about) is a definite plus.

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Woo! Way to go, Loki! Just the idea of Loki in a Santa hat is hilarious, though. I want one of those cardboard cutouts….

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I’m a fairly new SPN fan and I haven’t made it all the way through the show yet, but I’ve seen enough that I understand this one just fine. You get that grandma-killer, Sam and Dean!

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That’s a lot of cookies, for sure. My family used to do something like this every year, though I was little so I don’t know for sure if we really had that many cookies.

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Whoa. Cool it, Peeta. What’s Katniss supposed to say to that?

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I’ve always wondered about that myself….

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Ruuuude! That’s just rude. Dumbledore, you leave my baby Severus alone! I will admit, it is kinda funny though.

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Not many Jingle Bells parodies are this well done. I have seen this one a lot and it has made me laugh every single time.

What did you think of my list? Please comment and let me know! Christmas posts are fun – I wish I could have picked more than 10 for this post. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful week!

How Halloween Turned into My First Attempt at Cosplay – Part 2

How Halloween Turned into My First Attempt at Cosplay – Part 2

How Halloween Turned Into My First Attempt at Cosplay – Part 2

Okay. Sorry it took so long to get the other half of this out. I would have done it last week, only the Avengers: Endgame trailer dropped and that took priority. If you haven’t read the first part of this post, go ahead and read that first.

But, back to my cosplay story….

After my successful Amy Pond, I was feeling pretty confident that I could pull off Loki.

I mean, it wasn’t going to be perfect, since I didn’t have a black wig or hair dye and I don’t have the skill at the moment to make movie-accurate armor. What I did have was horns and a scepter provided by my friend Emily, a green cape from Party City, a cardboard box, a paper bag, markers, glue, Scotch tape, and a whole lot of determination.

So I mentioned in my last post that I had cut out armguards off a template I found on Pinterest. I got them wet, bent them around my forearms, then let them dry in that shape by putting my water bottle and a glowstick package on their sides on my desk and placing the cardboard pieces on top.

When they were dry the next morning, I very carefully took orange and brown markers and drew a design which I copied from a couple different Pinterest designs. I drew the original design in orange, then highlighted the edges and important sections in brown. Here’s a picture of the finished design:

Next time I go for a costume like this I’m going to try to recreate this look with craft foam, spray paint, and a craft awl to create actual texture, but overall, I was pretty impressed with how it turned out. I then decided to make guards for the upper arms to match, and ended up with this:

I then cut strips off my paper bag, taped them to the sides of the guards, and strapped them to my arms.

Cool, right?

So, with the horns, scepter, cape, and arm guards, I felt like I was pretty close to done, but I wanted to add just a little bit more. So I took my paper bag, and cut a long strip that I taped across my chest from my left shoulder to my waist like a sash.

I was going to leave it at that, but I wore the costume all day on Halloween, and halfway through the afternoon I decided I needed a little bit more. So I cut up more of the paper bag to put over my shoulders to suspend the cape a little more, and also added some strips around my thighs to add to  the aesthetic. Those didn’t last very long (needed to use something a little stronger than paper and tape on fabric) but it looked great if I was standing still.

I wore my tall brown boots because I always feel impressive when I wear those (and I don’t own any black ones), and slicked my hair back behind me. The horns were a little top-heavy as you can imagine, and I had to really cover them in packing tape to get them to stay together, but it was so worth it!

I wore it all day, through all my classes, and got so many compliments on it (I want to point out that I didn’t’ carry the horns and scepter around all day, though!). Then I wore it trick-or-treating with a bunch of friends to all the theme houses next to the campus, and over to the university president’s house, where he was serving cookies and cider. I put my name on the list for his costume contest, and he took a picture of me in my costume for future reference.

Guess what? The next, day, my picture appeared on his Instagram along with the announcement that I had won the contest! The prize was a $50 gift card to the campus bookstore, which is super helpful for next semester’s books.

So, thanks to Emily and my obsession with fandoms, my first foray into cosplay was successful and I can’t wait to do it again!

If you have ideas for which characters I should cosplay next, comment below and let me know! Thanks for reading!

Avengers: End Game Trailer Review

Avengers: End Game Trailer Review

Finally, the new trailer for Avengers 4 is here! After all the hype and false alarms, we now not only have the trailer, but also the title: Avengers: Endgame. Disclaimer: I have not read the comics, but I have been closely following social media conversations involving theories and comic references for this universe. This trailer made me geek out and I needed an outlet, so this is why I’m glad I have a blog now. So I can do stuff like that.

I promise, I have not peeked at any other trailer reviews as of yet, though as soon as I post this I’m going to, so all this is 100% my inferences from this trailer based on what I know. I can’t source anyone because a lot of my knowledge is from scrolling through Tumblr and Pinterest, so credit to anyone to whom credit is due.

The trailer starts with Tony, leaving a message for Pepper via his damaged helmet. Tony looks like he’s alone on the ship, which is obviously Peter Quill’s ship, the Milano.  But Nebula was left on Titan, too. Where is she? And with that question, the scene cuts to the Marvel logo, which disintegrates as a visual reminder of the events of Infinity War.

Even though it starts with an image of Tony’s helmet, the trailer looks to be more about Steve’s story. The Russos said that characters not given much screentime in IW (like Steve) will be given more in Endgame. If IW was about Tony (engagement to Pepper, dream about a baby, responsibility and burden of guilt, Peter’s death, Thanos recognizing him, Strange sacrificing the stone for him) then Endgame will be about Steve because they are equal characters and equally reaching the end of their character arcs.

There’s a quick shot of Thanos’ armor set up on a pole,almost like a scarecrow…not sure where or why. Is it a warning, a trophy, a memento?

Then we see someone walking through a field of prickly plants. It’s impossible to tell who this person is, or even if they’re male or female, but they’re limping. The left leg is noticeably stiffer than the right. The sun is shining on the camera so it’s hard to see…but my first impression was that it almost looks like Gamora. I have no proof of this. It could just as easily be Nebula, Natasha, or Bucky, as all of them wear gloves like that on occasion. But I’m leaning towards female, and it just feels like Gamora. No explanation, just a gut instinct. But if I’m right, how is this possible? Is it inside the Soul Stone? Does she get resurrected somehow? The plants could also signify that the world is flourishing with half its population pruned, just like Thanos predicted, which is supported by Natasha’s voiceover about Thanos wiping out 50% of the world’s population. Just like a forest is always more healthy after a wildfire. The prickles, however, might also signify that it’s not flourishing in a good way.

Quick shots of a once-again clean-shaven, weeping Steve, then Nat, who is still blond but her hair is longer, long enough to pull back as we see later in the trailer. Steve crying is an instant tearjerker and hits us right in the feels, especially when we remember that the last time we saw him crying was at Peggy’s funeral. (Remember that detail, I’ll come back to that). Then we get Bruce looking at photos of Peter, Scott, and Shuri. The remaining Avengers don’t know the status of any of these three individuals, though we know that Peter disintegrated in the Snap and Scott is stuck in the Quantum Realm. Scott’s name clearly has the word MISSING next to it, and it looks like Peter’s does too. And it looks like neither we nor the characters know where Shuri is at the moment.

We see a wide shot of that large room in the Avengers training facility, then Thor in a hoodie, sitting in front of a white, interestingly paneled wall. Kinda gives off a prison cell vibe, what with the black bar passing in front of the camera’s foreground, but don’t quote me on that. He could just as easily be taking some alone time somewhere in Wakanda or the training facility.

Next, a shot of Nebula obviously on the Milano. So Tony isn’t alone, though he sure seemed like it at the beginning. Maybe she hates him and won’t talk to him. She probably hates him, given that 1) she hates everyone and 2) Thanos succeeded with the snap, Gamora is gone, and yet she and Tony survived– for her character, this could easily equal survivor’s guilt taken out on him.

Then blue fingers – assuming this is still Nebula, since she’s the only blue character confirmed to be in this movie – brushing some fabric that looks like the sleeve of someone sitting in a chair, with a strap that looks like a seatbelt. Whose sleeve? Tony’s? But Steve’s voiceover (“We lost friends,”) seems to say maybe it’s someone different, maybe at a later time in the movie.

Then – Hawkeye! But, actually, I don’t think it’s him. Not really. This seems to confirm the longstanding fan theory about Ronin. Like I said, I am unfortunately not a comic reader, but Ronin is said to be Hawkeye’s darkest alter ego from the comics. While the Russos and the MCU in general cannot be said to have ever imitated the comics exactly, I have been hearing for over a year now in all the hype for IW and now End Game (so many sources I can’t even cite something) that Hawkeye will don the Ronin alter ego, who is a kind of lone samurai act, because he lost his entire family in the Snap. Which is super sad, because Clint is my favorite character, and I love his family, but it makes sense as a character motivation and would be a great next step in his character arc, which has kind of been dragging compared to other Marvel characters. This is further strengthened by Steve’s voiceover again saying, “We lost family,” just as Clint appears on the screen.

There are so many interesting things about this scene alone that I want to highlight: what’s that cool sword/butcher knife thing he’s holding? And the even cooler armguard? I wanna know more about his costume and why he chose it. Who’s that on the ground at his feet? And why does it look like they’re outside the Sanctum in Hong Kong from Doctor Strange? Doesn’t it look like the same street that the final battle happens in? If so, why are they there? And we just saw Nat at the Avengers training facility in New Jersey so how and why does she end up there?

And look – Steve is holding his compass with Peggy’s picture in it. Now that’s interesting – now Peggy has been connected with this movie twice in this trailer, even though she died in Captain America: Civil War. I haven’t seen that compass for a while. It’s nice to know he still carries it. Why does he have it out now and why was it placed in this trailer? The music and the closing of the compass lid happen in such synchronicity I wonder if there’s some symbolic meaning to it. A firmness of purpose? Is he giving up? Is it foreshadowing his death? Or is there something else going on here?

Aaaaand, the Avengers logo and title reveal! Notice, however,that the A in the background is assembling (pun intended) out of the ashes.This looks like a symbolic reference to the reversal of Thanos’ destruction,hopefully. Kind of the opposite of the “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” line from the Bible used in funerals a lot. If Thanos caused so many characters to become ashes, then surely in a comic book universe that can be reversed. And this would be the time to talk about the time travel theory, but that’s way too much for an already long post, so I’ll save it for a future one. Suffice it to say that the prevailing theory for End Game is that they find a way to travel back in time to prevent Thanos from obtaining the Infinity Stones in the first place, likely by attempting to change Loki’s timeline during or after the Battle of New York.

Also, we have to talk about the symbolism of the title “Endgame”. This phrase is used twice in the movies, once by Tony in Avengers: Age of Ultron – “We can bust arms dealers all the livelong day but that up there, that’s the end game,” and by Steven himself in IW, right after viewing all 5 million possible futures: “We’re in the end game now,”. It was my top pick out of all the circulating title possibilities and I have to say I’m gratified that I was right.

Then, at the very end, we get one more treat – because every Marvel trailer has to have a post-credits scene, just like the movies. This time it’s Ant-Man! Wait, how did he get out of the Quantum Realm? Let me guess…..bum ba dah dum! Captain Marvel! She wasn’t shown in this trailer, did you notice? They probably want to show us her skills in her own movie first. My guess is she won’t be in any of the trailers, and she will be their biggest surprise. Especially since they said that she will be the most powerful character introduced in the MCU so far. Given what Wanda did in IW, that’s saying something.

That’s a lot! Do you think I got everything? Please comment below if you noticed something I didn’t or have some insider information I’ve missed, from the comics or otherwise. I hope you enjoyed this post and keep a lookout for more soon! I’ll be sending out the other half of my cosplay story next week, unless something else comes up.

Top 10 Film Scores for Beginner Listeners

Top 10 Film Scores for Beginner Listeners

I’ve been listening to film scores in earnest for several years now. I can rattle off facts about films and details about their scores and composers that stagger most of my friends. But I forget the fact that not everyone is familiar to the music behind our favorite movies, so my passionate rants usually end up receiving blank stares. Whenever this happens, I suggesting some places to start listening, based on my own experience. Most people like to listen to music that is engaging and keeps their attention, which, unless you are a fan of classical music, is hard to do without lyrics. But at the same time, some of the most emotional scores include some portions that are harder to follow along with on the first go.

(I have avoided scores by John Williams, not because he’s not a good composer – he’s absolutely amazing! – but because he’s the one composer most people will recognize, having scored so many universally recognized films – Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Jaws, and E.T., just to name a few)

So keeping that in mind, drawing from a huge list of popular movies and attempting some diversity between composers (though, seriously, almost anything by Hans Zimmer is great for a new listener) here are my top 10 choices for film scores to listen to if you have never listened to one before, along with some honorable mentions:

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1: The Lion King (1994) by Hans Zimmer

 

The Lion King is a classic, more than any other score in this list. I know very few people who have not seen this movie, and even fewer who wouldn’t recognize the music. Many people know that Elton John did most of the songs for this movie, but Hans Zimmer won an Academy Award for the score, though he initially didn’t want to score it because he didn’t like musicals or children’s films. But he accepted the job so that he could take his young daughter to the premiere, and later found that the death of Mufasa in the film helped him emotionally deal with the death of his own father (Daily Mail, 2017). The way Zimmer transfers from the cinematic drama of the major action scenes to the absolutely gorgeous African choir section makes this one of my absolute favorite scores.

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2: National Treasure by Trevor Rabin

 

I have loved this movie since I was a kid, and when I became interested in film scores, I went back and listened to the score and realized just how memorable this score is. Try listening to tracks like “Preparation Montage” and “Foot Chase” – Trevor Rabin has a rock background (trevorrabin.net, n.d.) and you can really hear that in this score. Then listen to the more orchestral, moving tracks like “Ben” and “Treasure” and you’ll realize why I love this score so much. Additionally, it’s under an hour long, so it won’t take as long as other scores to listen to the whole thing.

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3: Up by Michael Giacchino

 

This is one of the sweetest and best Pixar movies out there, in my opinion. Michael Giacchino’s talent and feel for the heart of a movie really comes out in his Pixar scores. The track “Married Life”, is my personal favorite, because it was written for that heartbreaking montage at the beginning that made even critics cry. Ellie’s theme is really the highlight and the main idea of the entire movie, and this is one of the best places to hear it. Another good track is “Stuff We Did”, which features Ellie’s theme in a much more subdued and sorrowful light as you remember all the things that Carl and Ellie were going to do together that never happened. This score captures the highs and lows of the story perfectly, and is great to listen if you’re feeling relaxed.

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4: The Avengers (2012) by Alan Silvestri

 

How could I not put The Avengers in here? This score was one of the first scores I bought for myself when I was first getting into film scores a few years ago. It’s so iconic, and every track brings something new and exciting that really helps you remember without half trying what was going on in that scene. Take “Red Ledger”, for example – the conversation between Loki and Black Widow. It’s almost hard to tell who wins in that quiet battle of words – Natasha’s dark Russian theme weaves around Loki’s mysterious alien one so well that halfway through the track you aren’t sure which is which anymore. And one of my other favorites, “One Way Trip”, you can hear the moment that Tony disappears into the wormhole, and the tiny, one-time motif that plays when the Hulk snatches him out of the sky and saves his life.

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5: Once Upon a Time in the West by Ennio Morricone

 

This score is exciting because I actually didn’t learn about it until I was watching Hans Zimmer’s Masterclass on film scoring. Zimmer said that Once Upon a Time in the West was one the very first movie he ever saw, and that Ennio Morricone was one of his greatest influences (The Telegraph, 2012). So I went and listened to this score and was absolutely fascinated because I could hear so many of Hans’ scores in this music! So much of Hans Zimmer’s style is adapted directly from Morricone’s music and it’s amazing to listen to the similarities. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.

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6: Beauty and the Beast by Alan Menken

 

This takes me back into my early childhood, one of the first themes to stick in my memory. I chose the newer version of this score because Alan Menken expanded and broadened the themes from the original animated version, but otherwise kept them the same (Billboard, 2017). So basically, it’s the same music, there’s just more of it. This theme is just so memorable and gorgeous I couldn’t not put it on this list. So lyrical and evocative – doesn’t the music make you want to go watch the movie again?

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7: Thor (2011) by Patrick Doyle

 

This was the other score I bought for myself when I first got into film scores, being a hardcore Marvel fan. I love this score in particular, because, out of all the other Marvel scores, this one has a very lyrical, Shakespearian feel to it. Patrick Doyle works with director Kenneth Branagh a lot (ClassicFM, 2018), and you can hear that Doyle knew exactly what Branagh wanted for this score. It’s so gentle and yet so impactful it really deserves its place on this list. Check out “The Compound” and listen to Thor breaking into the SHIELD compound to retrieve his hammer, only to find out he can’t lift it, or “Letting Go”, at the very end, when Loki falls into the wormhole.

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9: Edward Scissorhands by Danny Elfman

 

I am ashamed to say I have not actually seen this movie yet. But ask anyone who knows their film scores will mention this as a top Danny Elfman score (Filmtracks, 2016). In my own experience, having listened to the score without seeing the movie, I feel that the music is self-explanatory. No, I don’t know what goes on in this story – but I can guess based on the emotion I hear in the music. Ups and downs, action and emotion – that’s all captured within this score. And of course, the Ice Dance track. Amazing!

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8: August Rush by Mark Mancina

 

This is a lesser known movie than all the others on this list. I watched it a few years ago with my family and was not wowed by the storyline, but I was blown away by the music. This particular track kind of encompasses the main character’s entire journey through the movie, a young boy attempting to find his parents by following the music in his head. You can hear the noise of the traffic in New York City, the guitar that earned him money on a street corner, and the voice of the girl who became his friend and support. Using unconventional instruments and a creative composing style, Mark Mancina has definitely nailed it with this score.

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10: Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) by Harry Gregson-Williams

 

This score is special to me. It was the first score I ever listened to – at ten years old – and I was fascinated from the very start. One of my most favorite tracks, “Evacuating London” is kind of a transition track between WWII London and a little house in the country and a magical world waiting in a wardrobe. It’s moving and relaxing and really wakes up your imagination in a way that not much else can. And this track, “The Battle”, is so amazingly evocative of the images in the story. Close your eyes when listening to it and imagine the battlefield of the movie. Do like I did and assign different characters to different instruments, and try to pinpoint the exact moment when the White Witch stabs Edmund and it goes into slow motion. It’s sure to send shivers of pleasure down your back!

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Some honorable mentions I want to include are the scores for the Lord of the Rings trilogy by Howard Shore, which is gorgeous but also so incredibly long that a beginner listener might give up after a few tracks. If you stick it out, though, it’s worth it. So many motifs! I could go on and on. Also, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies by Hans Zimmer and Geoff Zanelli have some amazing music. These are easy to listen to but I couldn’t just pick one movie to put in the list as they are all equally action-packed and evocative. And lastly, I have always loved the score for The Polar Express by Alan Silvestri. The only problem with that is that the official score only has three orchestral tracks alongside the rest of the songs from the movie, so there’s not too much there to listen to. But go ahead and listen to them, please!

If you listen to all the scores on this list, you are well on your way to being a better informed moviegoer than all of your friends! I would encourage you to incorporate film music into your regular playlists as it will help you connect with your favorite movies and also broaden your knowledge of how music works to tell a story.

Sources:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4469138/Hans-Zimmer-composed-Lion-King-soundtrack-daughter.html

https://www.trevorrabin.net/Bio.html

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/classic-movies/9413230/Hans-Zimmer-on-Ennio-Morricones-score-for-Once-Upon-a-Time-in-the-West.html

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7728552/alan-menken-new-music-beauty-and-the-beast-movie-interview

https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/periods-genres/film-tv/director-composer-partnerships/henry-v-branagh/