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The Music Of P.T. Anderson

September 16th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments


On his blog The Rail of Tomorrow, Scott Nye wrote a wonderful piece on P.T. Anderson. Through an examination of his work, Nye reaches a larger conclusion of what the soundtrack can do for a film, most notably in Anderson’s underrated masterpiece Punch-Drunk Love:

The music (by Jon Brion) is as much the film as the cinematography, the performances, or the dialogue. Listening to the score on its own (an easy practice to fall into), you can feel the film happening around you, and if the film has its intended effect, the score is largely responsible. It can be melancholic, overwhelmingly frantic, joyful, pleasant, even a little jazzy, all emotions created inside the film, often through the music. Jean-Luc Godard once said, ‘To me, style is just the outside of content, and content the inside of style, like the outside and the inside of the human body—both go together, they can’t be separated.’ Never has that quote meant as much as it does when reflecting on Punch-Drunk Love.”

That’s exactly how I felt about the film when I first saw it. It’s a total sensory experience that doesn’t soon leave you. The following clip beautifully demonstrates the power of Anderson’s blend of image and sound:

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