Have you imagined what a film would be if no music was added? Usually, people do not pay attention to every film’s music score detail. Music has been around for many years as it has the power to drive you into a world of imagery. Moreover, music conveys a message to an audience that is often unappreciated. The motion picture industry has done a phenomenal job utilizing music and integrating sound to capture one’s attention during a film. Additionally, the film industry has applied music to create emotions. In the movie Shrek (2001), I will be analyzing the functions of the scene, describing the music, and explaining the importance of the music composed by John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams.
The musical scene to analyze from Shrek is the “Alone Again scene” in the film, where the song Hallelujah is performed, originally by Leonard Cohen, but for the film is done by Rufus Wainwright (Movieclips). This is a classical and yet somber performance from Shrek. The song used in the film in this scene is a popular song, where the cover is meant to explicate the attitude of the moment, where Shrek and the Donkey shift apart after a bitter argument, and everyone is left alone. The scene also showcases Fiona dining and being alone in a room, where she is not happy about her situation, which can be explained by the gloomy sound of the music, the low tone used, and the sound of the guitar playing in the background together with the music (Adamson and Jenson). This happens after Shrek and the donkey rescue Fiona from the castle, where Shrek overhears the conversation between Fiona and the Donkey. He overhears Fiona narrating the “Ugly Ogre” transformation. Shrek then misinterprets the self-pity by Fiona as a comment about his physical appearance, which significantly breaks his heart. This is a heartbreaking moment, where Fiona and Shrek had grown to adore each other, but the comments appear to be too hurtful to Shrek. This leads to him showing the Donkey, his friend, the door for betrayal, and he is left alone again. As a result, the famous Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, played beautifully by Rufus Wainwright, is played in the background, which helps set and reflect the somber mood, which is the film’s lowest moment.
The music is smooth and blue and depicts the sad moment about Shrek being angry at himself. It begins with a piano beat in the introduction, which is slow and gentle, and one which introduces the moment of the film. Then the singer presents the introductory part of the song. Despite its popularity, any viewer or listener can feel the sad aspect of the film with Shrek almost crying, the Donkey wandering alone, and Fiona’s memory in the haunted house playing. As the piano plays in the background and the singer continues to sing the lyrics to the Hallelujah song, the music sets the tone and manipulates the entire storyline, given its soft tones and the profound message of the song, which align with the moment of the movie.
As the music plays, there is the incorporation of soothing sound effects, dialogue from the background, and emotional characters, all of whom align concerning their moods to change the audience’s feelings. There is a continuous change in pitch for the music, with high intonations from the singer in some instances. For example, from Movieclips (0.58 – 1.04), the intonation moves from flat to sharp, which gives a contrasting experience to the audience watching the film since it makes one want to concentrate more on what the song is all about. The music also makes one reflect on how much love Shrek has for Fiona, which hurts him deep inside that he cannot stop missing her, where the same is the case with Fiona, who also deeply misses him, and their feelings align with the mood of the song.
Therefore, from the scene, it is apparent that music plays a massive role in films and greatly influences how the audience feels about certain sections of a movie. The musical sound can be used to reveal characters and their intentions, act as the subject of the film, and shape the audience’s feelings, as seen in the hallelujah scene of the Shrek movie. Accompanying the soundtrack with the film’s scenes also aids in better comprehension of the specific parts of the film and the message that the film tries to pass. This is in since by the use of soundtrack, the temperaments, the feelings, and the thoughts of the main characters can easily be read and comprehended. It also creates a fond memory of the moment, which is easy to remember for anyone who watched the film. Through the integration of music, the audience can concentrate better on various meanings and themes within the film. The soundtrack is also accompanied by amusing sceneries of the film, where most of them are flashbacks, which give the viewer memories and create a sad atmosphere for the viewer.
Music in the Shrek film is proof of the significance of music in any form of a movie. This is since, first, music helps in shaping the emotional responses of the audiences and creates the mood of a given scene. Music also helps create a rhythm to the scene or segment, which boosts the portraying of that specific segment of the film. It is often crucial to the experiences and, in some cases, becomes an icon as the movie itself. The art of using music in any given film, such as Shrek, is to choose music that underscores emotions without telegraphing it. As much as the film is a visual medium, it hence needs music to help in improving the experience of the audience.
Adamson, Andrwe and Vicky Jenson. “Shrek.” (2001). <https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0126029/>.
Movieclips. “Shrek (2001) – Hallelujah Scene (8/10) | Movieclips.” (2018). <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xURDJ-IW5YM>.