Today: April 10, 2024

Cinema Craic: Music To The Ears

Imagine Psycho’s shower scene be without Bernard Hermann’s screaming violin. Jaws without the ominously alternating notes that announce the arrival of the Great White shark. Imagine Star Wars without Vader’s theme. Or Lawrence Uf Arabia without Maurice Jarre’s sweepingly epic score.

Behind every hit film is a hit score. Music to stir the blood, set the heart a-pumping. Music to thrill and chill. So it’s no surprise that last year’s Films With Live Orchestra series was a resounding hit. Highlighting just how much good music adds to a film, the series is experience cinema with a hefty dose of luxury: blockbuster movies, screened in the Royal Albert Hall, accompanied by a full orchestra.

This year’s season opened with Raiders Of The Lost Ark. And it’s a testament to John Williams’ tub-thumping score that, now that I’ve written those words, you’re probably already humming along.

I’ve been to quite a few ‘experience’ cinema events over the years, including a spectacular screening of the Lon Chaney silent classic Phantom Of The Opera. But it’s been a while … and who can resist Raiders?

So just how well does a film famous for it’s score, play out in a music venue famous for its terrible acoustics? One word: outstandingly. The organisers were sensible enough to take a belt-and-braces approach by adding subtitles to the film, but these proved to be entirely unnecessary … although I did discover that I’ve been hearing some lines wrong for decades.

The sound balance was as good as you’d hope for, with the 21st Century Orchestra’s percussion and brass sections doing a superb job of providing those much-loved twiddles and trumpety high notes. A blind friend commented later that the film’s track appeared a little ‘off’, with expected gun shots and other sound SFX missing. But I’ll be honest, I was so wrapped up in the visual and audio spectacle that I really didn’t notice.

The atmos. was good too, with a mix of geeky film buffs, music fans, and families thoroughly enjoying the ride. Enjoying it so much, that the usual phone fiddling and whispered plot discussions that plague modern cinema was entirely lacking.

The only downside was the decision of some parents to bring along their little ones. Raiders may be a PG, but it’s not necessarily appropriate for 4-year-olds.

Films With Live Orchestra makes for a great communal experience but if you have kids, chose your films carefully. There’s probably little to worry about with the likes of Frozen, Ratatouille, and E.T. (28th/28th October and 28th December) but someone’s whose viewing experiences mostly involve Peppa Pig, probably isn’t going to enjoy watching Nazis melting, people being torn apart by dinosaurs (Jurassic Park, 3rd-5th November), or monsters erupting from chests (Aliens, 6th November).

Gladiator, Amadeus, Independence Day, and movie Westerns are all in this year’s line up too, but I’m already compiling my own wish list. 2001, A Fistful Of Dollars, and how about Star  Wars? I could see that Mos Eisley Cantina Band really bringing the house down.

For more information about the Films With Live Orchestra series at the Royal Albert Hall visit:

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

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