In the wake of the annual gathering of Hollywood royalty known as the Academy Awards, we thought it would be fun to have a little Oscars special to look at a handful of films who have utilized electronic music as a prominent element in either setting, soundtrack or scene.
In bypassing some of the usual electronic-centric fare like Groove, It’s All Gone Pete Tong and Berlin Calling; we instead look at selections from narrative and documentary that embody the sensory onslaught that is the scene we hold dear. With the highly anticipated release of Mia Hansen-Love’s Eden [https://www.facebook.com/eden.lefilm], hopefully later this year, the future looks bright for an even bigger sample size of electronic music focused films to come.
A quick note on the list: this is a concise personal selection by the writer in, essentially, random order without hierarchical status, whatsoever. Do Let us know, however, some of your favorite electronic music oriented films that need to be in here.
- Pi (Dir. Darren Aronofsky)
As one of the best Directorial debuts of all time, Darren Aronofsky’s claustrophobic Pi, twitches and turns with the undercurrent of electromagnetic shock therapy. Featuring one of the finest (and earliest) examples of an exclusively electronic score, standout tracks from the likes of Orbital, Gus Gus, Massive Attack, BT and Roni Size shape the black & white enigma into the cult classic it is today.
- Enter the Void (Dir. Gaspar Noé)
Coming from a pioneer of the nihilistic New French Extreme cinema movement, Enter the Void attacks the senses from the get go. With the throbbing LFO electro rave anthem ‘Freak’ diedetically enhancing the most visually stimulating title sequence ever committed to celluloid, Enter the Void’s saturated take on reincarnation and existentialism is about as close you’ll come to a film embodying the multi sensory nature of a night out.
- Limelight (Dir. Billy Corben)
Few tracks are as emblematic and appropriate to a singular venue as New York City’s infamous 19th Century stone cathedral / nightclub, and DHS timeless ‘House of God.’ As soon as the opening chords echo in Billy Corben’s documentary Limelight, you know you have been transported back to an era LONG gone in NYC clubbing (Thanks a lot Bloomberg, gentrification, and luxury condos). Highlighting the likes of Peter Gatien, Superstar DJ Keoki and, of course, the Party Monster himself Michael Alig, Limelight offers the slightest of glimpses back at a time of unparalleled NYC nightlife.
- Run Lola Run (Dir. Tom Twyker)
Perhaps the finest mesh of visual to sound, in relation to electronic music, ever made, Run Lola Run’s frantic energy of its narrative mold perfectly with Director (and Composer) Tom Twyker’s driving electro score. Unlike other examples on the list, Run Lola Run features a soundtrack much more in line with the traditional cinematic approach to score, yet for 1999 was revolutionary in capturing the affect of electro within the frame of the intellectual montage.
- Midnight Express (Dir. Alan Parker)
In keeping with the Oscar theme, our final selection may come slightly out of left field but it undoubtedly holds a place within the spectrum of cinematic electronica. The Academy Award winner for Best original score in 1978, the soundtrack’s synthy electro pop selections were penned by none other than dance music pioneer Giorgio Moroder. Enjoying something of a resurgence of late, thanks in no small part to Daft Punk, Midnight Express represents a virtual sonic time machine back to the free swinging days of the late 1970s.