Music, Sound, and the Moving Image

One Does Not Simply Walk into Mordor

Sound and Music as Suture in the Opening Sequences of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth Films

Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (2020), 14, (2), 93–117.

Abstract

The opening sequences of narrative films are perhaps the most important moments for establishing a coherent film-world and drawing a viewer into a space and time often quite different from their own, and yet these moments remain largely untheorised within film studies and film music theory in particular. This article analyses the uses of music and sound in the opening sequences of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth trilogies: The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) and The Hobbit (2009-2011). The paratextual nature of opening sequences might lead us to understand them as theoretical gateways or airlocks, but it is the psychoanalytical concept of suture that proves most effective in theorising music’s dual roles in drawing an audience into a film-world and simultaneously building that world around them. This paper’s motivic and harmonic investigation draws particularly on Scott Murphy’s theories of transformational analysis to understand the different ways that musical language can be established as a form of cinematic suture.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

References

Adams, Doug (2010) The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore’s Scores. Van Nuys: Carpentier. Google Scholar

Biancorosso, Giorgio (2001) ‘Beginning Credits and Beyond: Music and the Cinematic Imagination’, ECHO: A Music-Centred Journal (3) 1. Available from: http://www.echo.ucla.edu/Volume3-Issue1/biancorosso/biancorosso.pdf (Accessed: 21 October 2020). Google Scholar

Buhler, James (2000) ‘Star Wars, Music, and Myth’. In: Buhler, James, Flinn, Carol & Neumeyer, David (eds). Music and Cinema. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, pp.33-57. Google Scholar

Buhler, James (2006) ‘Enchantments of The Lord of the Rings: Soundtrack, Myth, Language, and Modernity’. In: Mathijs, Ernest & Pomerance, Murray (eds). From Hobbits to Hollywood: Essays on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp.231-248. Google Scholar

Buhler, James (2013) ‘Notes to the soundtrack of Source Code’. In: Vernallis, Carol, Herzog, Amy & Richardson, John (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.502-513. Google Scholar

Buhler, James (2014) ‘Psychoanalysis, Apparatus Theory, and Subjectivity’. In: Neumeyer, David (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.383-423. Google Scholar

Buhler, James (2016) ‘Branding the Franchise: Music, Opening Credits, and the (Corporate) Myth of Origin’. In: Meyer, Stephen C. (ed.). Music in Epic Film: Listening to Spectacle. Abingdon: Taylor and Francis, pp.3-26. Google Scholar

Coggan, Devan (2016) ‘Rogue One doesn’t have an Opening Crawl - but should it?’, Entertainment Weekly, 16 December. Available from: https://ew.com/article/2016/12/16/star-wars-rogue-one-opening-crawl/ (Accessed: 8 September 2020). Google Scholar

Davison, Annette (2014) ‘The End is Nigh: Music Postfaces and End-Credit Sequences in Contemporary Television Serials’, Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, 8 (2), pp.195-215. Google Scholar

Dayan, Daniel (1974) ‘The Tutor-Code of Classical Cinema’, Film Quarterly, 28 (1), pp.22-31. Google Scholar

Dudrah, Rajinder K. (2012) Bollywood Travels: Culture, Diaspora and Border Crossings in Popular Hindi Cinema. London: Routledge. Google Scholar

Genette, Gérard (1997) Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

Gorbman, Claudia (1987) Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music. London: BFI Publishing. Google Scholar

Gray, Jonathan A. (2010) Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. New York: New York University Press. Google Scholar

Heine, Erik (2018) ‘Chromatic Mediants and Narrative Context in Film’, Music Analysis, 37, pp.103-132. Google Scholar

Heldt, Guido (2013) Music and Levels of Narration in Film: Steps Across the Border. Bristol and Chicago: Intellect. Google Scholar

Johnson, Tim (1995) ‘Cinema and Suture in the Opening Credit Sequences’. Masters Thesis, Birkbeck College/British Film Institute. Google Scholar

Kamp, Michiel (2016) ‘Suture and Peritexts: Music Beyond Gameplay and Diegesis’. In: Kamp, Michiel, Summers, Tim & Sweeney, Mark (eds). Ludomusicology: Approaches to Video Game Music. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing, pp.73-91. Google Scholar

Kuhn, Annette (2002) An Everyday Magic: Cinema and Cultural Memory. London: I.B. Tauris. Google Scholar

Kuhn, Annette (2010) ‘Cinematic Experience, Film Space, and the Child’s World’, Canadian Journal of Film Studies, 19 (2), pp.82-98. Google Scholar

Laforet, Vincent (2012) ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Masterclass in Why 48 FPS Fails’, Gizmodo, 19 December. Available from: https://gizmodo.com/5969817/the-hobbit-an-unexpected-masterclass-in-why-48-fps-fails (Accessed: 14 May 2018). Google Scholar

Lehman, Frank (2018) Hollywood Harmony: Musical Wonder and the Sound of Cinema. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Murphy, Scott (2014) ‘Transformational Theory and the Analysis of Film Music’. In: Neumeyer, David (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Film Music Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.471-499. Google Scholar

Oudart, Jean-Pierre (1969) ‘La Suture’, Cahiers du cinema, 211 (April), pp.36-39; and 212 (May), pp.50-55. Translated as ‘Cinema and Suture’, Screen, 18 (4) (Winter 1977/78), pp.35-47. Google Scholar

Powrie, Phil, & Heldt, Guido (2014) ‘Introduction: Trailers, Titles, and End Credits’, Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, 8 (2), pp.111-120. Google Scholar

Rone, Vincent (2018) ‘Scoring the Familiar and Unfamiliar in Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings’, Music and the Moving Image, 11 (2), pp.37-66. Google Scholar

Saler, Michael (2012) As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Smith, Jeff (1996) ‘Unheard Melodies?A Critique of Psychoanalytic Theories of Film Music’. In: Bordwell, David & Carroll, Noël (eds). Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, pp.230-247. Google Scholar

Stanitzek, Georg (2009) ‘Reading the Title Sequence (Vorspann, Générique)’, Cinema Journal, 48 (4), pp.44-58. Google Scholar

Todorov, Tzvetan (1975) The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Google Scholar

Topping, Alexandra (2010) ‘Guillermo del Toro Quits as Director of The Hobbit’, The Guardian, 31 May. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/may/31/the-hobbit-guillermo-del-toro (Accessed: 14 May 2018). Google Scholar

White, Daniel (2019) ‘Avengers: Endgame and the relentless march of Hollywood franchise movies’, The Conversation, 12 July. Available from: https://theconversation.com/avengers-endgame-and-the-relentless-march-of-hollywood-franchise-movies-119130 (Accessed: 30 October 2019). Google Scholar

Winters, Ben (2014) Music, Performance, and the Realities of Film: Shared Concert Experiences in Screen Fiction. Abingdon: Routledge Google Scholar

Worley, Alec (2005) Empires of the Imagination: A Critical Survey of Fantasy Cinema from Georges Méliès to The Lord of the Rings. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. Google Scholar

Yacavone, Daniel (2014) Film Worlds: A Philosophical Aesthetics of Cinema. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Media Cited

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson, New Zealand/USA, 2012. Google Scholar

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Peter Jackson, New Zealand/USA, 2014. Google Scholar

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson, New Zealand/USA, 2013. Google Scholar

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson, New Zealand/USA, 2001. Google Scholar

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Peter Jackson, New Zealand/USA, 2003. Google Scholar

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Peter Jackson, New Zealand/USA, 2002. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

WHITE, DANIEL