The late film critic Pauline Kael once wrote “music and movies work within us and set the terms in which we perceive ourselves.”
From Elvis Presley shaking his hips in “Jailhouse Rock” to the Beatles running away down the street from the screaming teenage girls in “A Hard Day’s Night,” the potent fusion of music and film has created a plethora of images that have been ingrained in the American conscience, some becoming the most memorable soundtracks in film history.
Inspired by “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which has received several nods from critics for its strong soundtrack, is a list of five films with the most memorable soundtracks, in no particular order.
1. “Easy Rider” (1969): This film, along with “Bonnie and Clyde” and “The Graduate,” kicked off the most creative and audacious period in the history of Hollywood. From the beginning of the film when Steppenwolf’s “The Pusher” is blaring, audiences knew this was a film that was finally reflecting back their everyday existence. Make sure to turn up the volume when The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “If 6 was 9”
2. “Boogie Nights” (1997): Arguably the greatest American filmmaker working today, Paul Thomas Anderson’s second feature is a love letter to his home in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley in the 1970s. Like the floating, steady cam shots weaving in and out of this star-studded cast, Anderson digs deep into his eight-track collection to create a mixtape full of disco freak-outs, ’70s soft-rock and early hits from the 1980s.
3. “The Last Waltz” (1978): “This film should be played loud.” That’s what the title card reads in the beginning of Martin Scorsese’s concert film about one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most influential groups, The Band. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison and Eric Clapton all make cameos in a film that celebrates the music that defined a generation, and a fine example of the potent connection between musician and audience.
4. “Death Proof” (2007): We all know “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs” altered not only cinema, but how music can speak to the images projected on the screen. Music is one of the essential components to Quentin Tarantino’s aesthetic, and the soundtrack to his self-proclaimed weakest film is probably the greatest playlist for a Saturday night only he can create.
5. “High Fidelity” (2000): One of the greatest romantic comedies in the past 30 years, and a soundtrack your hipster friends will be jealous you own, this film, along with “Almost Famous” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” made 2000 a great year for soundtracks.