Music in a film is one of the principal elements that can reveal the theme, mood, and inner feelings of the characters in the movie. As a model of communication, music in films underscores the characters’ intuitive feelings, their mechanism action and the density of the film. In the film, on the beach, Stanley Kramer, the director, chooses his soundtracks with precision to highlight the background of the film, character identification, and the unfolding of events.
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Among the soundtracks he uses include, the Waltzing Maltida, onward Christian soldiers, and stand up stand up for Jesus. He uses emphatic music to show the general mood of the film and the choice of word conveys an intended message or theme to the audience. Therefore, besides creating a persuasive atmosphere to the audience, the music puts emphasis on the psychological refinement (internal thoughts and life) of the characters.
The function of music in Kramer’s film, on the beach
For communication to the audience
Kramer choice of songs enables him to condemn, albeit indirectly, war because of its social and psychological effects to the people. For instance, the lyrics of onward Christian soldier not only accentuate the atmospheric nature of the film, but also symbolize the consequences of the war in the context.
Although there is no hope for survival, especially after the planting of the atomic bomb in Australia, the song gives hope to the citizens. The nuclear bomb is for destruction of all people, but the people flimsily continue to pray for their survival. The song also reveals the inner thoughts and feelings of Mary Holmes. The song reveals her despair and hope to soldier on in a land filled with nuclear radiations. All the citizens opt to commit suicide before the impact of the radiation takes toll on their health.
Therefore, the song also highlights the solidarity of the people before facing their death together. By using the aforementioned song, Kramer explores the negative impacts of the war especially to humanity. The playing of the song in the background where people are crying, there is shedding of blood, and suicide operations leave the audience to condemn war. Moreover, through the song, the director exposits the impact of the radiation rays especially to human beings and shows the scientific advancements in the world at his time.
Express general mood of the film
Kramer also chooses his soundtracks to express the modality of the film as somber, scary and horror. In so doing, he communicates and prepares the audience psychologically in the terrific scenes that lie ahead. The use of sophisticated weapons like nuclear bombs to wipe out the enemies accompanied by a song like waltzing Matilda presents war, which will end up either tragic or victorious.
The use of the song on the background prepares the audience to the next scene or event in the film. Although the soldiers face the war with determination, the use of crude weapons by their opponents kills their hopes of ever winning the war. the movie is set in the future (1964), through the use of Christian songs like stand up stand up for Jesus Kramer reveals and at the same time discourage the audience from participating in the war.
He encourages the viewers to choose Christianity and save lives. Therefore, besides expressing the general mood of the film, the filmmaker also pass his message or intended themes to the audience as expounded next.
To highlight thematic elements
Using the Christian and victory songs, Kramer highlights the themes of war, Christianity, and unity. He put emphasis on the impacts of war to personal, social and economic wellbeing of the society by playing sorrowful songs. For instance, the song stand up stand up for Jesus plays in the background especially after loss of lives, disagreements and during conflicts.
This compels the audience to adapt to Christian values by learning from the suffering of other people in the film. According to Kramer, adaptation of Christianity promotes unity among individual despite their nationality or racial identification. Thus, by using the songs, Kramer highlights war as his chief theme and preaches peace as his message to the viewers.
The filmmaker also chooses his song to place his film in the right context or during a given time. Kramer’s writes his film after two main world wars, World War I and II. Kramer’s soundtrack mimics the desperation, sufferings and tension experienced during the previous two wars. Onward Christian soldiers’ music reveals the desperate feelings of the characters in the film. While waltzing Matilda, there is still time brother, and stand up stand up for Jesus reflect on the adverse impact of war to the people.
Although there is nothing to hold on and the feeling hopelessness creeps in, people are yet to come to terms with the realities facing them. In addition, the people only sing Christian, and encouraging songs after learning of the impeding danger, yet they would have stopped the war earlier. Therefore, the desperation of the people due to the effects of the war functions as a warning against engaging in war in the future.
Finally, the tone, attitude and the mood of the music used in Kramer’s film adds energy to the movie. Through repetition of the aforementioned beats, Kramer puts emphasis on the disconsolate lives of the characters in the film. For example, Mrs. Holmes cries frequently and inconsolable after realizing her life is on the verge of death.
On the other hand, other characters engage in a fateful race ending their lives. Therefore, apart from using music to show the atmospheric nature of the film, Kramer also uses the songs to introduce the characters and their fateful lives.
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For an individual to understand the message and theme of a movie, s/he has to focus on the music used by the directors while making the film. Music and the soundtrack to a film communicate a given aspect of the film to the audience. Although some viewers may overlook the availability of the music, each writer chooses the words of his music carefully to pass a given message.
Besides expressing the film’s background, the music puts emphasis on the context, events, scenes, and characters in the movie. Most filmmakers use music to show the internal feelings of their characters while others use music to promote a certain value in their audience.
In summary, the music in a film has a number functions ranging from the general mood, tone, attitude and communication to the audience among others. Kramer’s inclusion of songs in his film, On the Beach, is a warning to the public against the dire consequences of venturing into and perpetrating war.