Edgar Wright is a certified movie buff of the highest order, a cinephile and fanatic whose love for the silver-screen is all-consuming. He’s also a lover of music too, as anyone who has seen his stellar picture, Baby Driver, (which very narrowly missed out on our recent soundtracks top 10) can testify.
When the world of music and movies collide, they can provide a visceral blow that you just might not be able to handle. The palpable immediate energy of music, that carries a response as naturally conditioned in us as dropping a hot plate, and the dreamlike encapsulation of cinema combine to scintillating effect.
Whether it be smashing zombies head in while listening to the power-pop stylings of Queen or marrying the ways of small-town England with The Kinks’ ‘The Village Green Preservation Society’, the caustic combo of sound and screen is one that Wright has harnessed to great effect in his glistening career. All of this places him in a pretty prominent position to posit his own favourite movie soundtracks with a fair share of clout behind his choices. Thus, when he published a list of his fifty ‘Film Soundtrack Favourites’ and bolstered a few of the claims with quotes over the years, it makes for a fairly notable collection to say the least.
One score firmly amidst his favourites is the incomparable soundtrack to Scorsese’s gangster epic Goodfella’s. Wright touted the iconic pair-up of Ray Liotta’s paranoia with the psychedelic riff of Harry Nilsson’s ‘Jump Into The Fire’ as being one of his favourite music moments in movie history, and rightfully so. The fast-paced exhilaration of the song with its darkly underscored low-end bass is the perfect pairing for Henry Hill’s (Ray Liotta) frantic fall from non-existent grace.
Elsewhere he delves into space with Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey having once told Red Bull Music Academy that the stargate sequence has him “cowering in his seat with the sheer power of the sound.” It is an iconic score befitting of the genre-defining movie itself and its overture of sonic energy has clearly been an influence on him as a director.
The credit sequence in another aspect of Wrights directing that proves all-important to his style and it is not without its abiding influences. “Reservoir Dogs,” he told the Quietus, “[has the] greatest credit sequence ever.” He is, of course, referring to the shades, black ties and sultry bass of George Baker Selection’s ‘Little Green Bag’, but you didn’t need me to tell you that.
Whilst Tarantino is a director who knows a thing or two about the important marriage of score and screen time, he is not alone in this regard. Another luminary of the art is Wes Anderson, and his mastery of the craft has certainly not gone unnoticed to Edgar. Both The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Grand Budapest Hotel feature on his list.
The theme that runs through his choices is that he continually champions moments when the music rises up with all the subtly of a jump-scare and snatches the scene out from under you. There is not many soundtrack moments he has eulogised over the years that you can’t place in memory if you have ever seen the movies, which is obviously to the credit of the score. Another of these sequences branded forever on the viewers brain is the transformation scene from An American Werewolf in London. Aside from “the most amazing Mickey Mouse cut away,” Wright also loves the contrast of using the moon as reference point, sometimes fittingly with Van Morrison tracks under love sequences and conversely using it as a juxtaposition with Sam Cooke scoring some very grisly violence. His favourite moment though, “[is] the cut to black ending with the doo-wop version of ‘Blue Moon’ by The Marcels.”
His favourite movie soundtrack of all time, however, may well be The Blues Brothers score. When asked to pick his favourite music moment within it, he simply responded “the whole damn thing!”
As far as we’re concerned, Edgar, the Bellbottoms scene in Baby Driver can compete with any of them. You can check out a playlist of the full selection below.