Examining the Music of Big Fish and Cold Mountain Essay

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Concerning the genre spectrum, Big Fish and Cold Mountain are miles apart. The first is a magical assortment of reality and fantasy driven by a man running from a loved one; the second is a historical fiction propelled by a man seeking a loved one. In addition to the dramatic and thematic differences, the underscoring of both films is opposing in the methods used to achieve similar ends; namely, serving the five functions. Danny Elfman, the composer for this Tim Burton film, interlaced an intricate and organized underscoring for the film, forming a piece that rivals that of Edward Scissor Hands.

A first noticeable difference between the two films is the sheer amount of underscoring and source music used in one film as compared to
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No grudge is held against the compositions of Cold Mountain for the simplicity, as the film itself was a solemn, cold natured film. Cold Mountain's frigid demeanor allowed for little expression in the musical moments, unlike in Big Fish, where Elfman was able to tap into the expressiveness of the film to add variety and expressionism to the score. Thus, the two contrasting natures of the films are what give birth to the contrasted leitmotive natures.

Concerning the conciseness of the scores, Big Fish was overall bigger, louder, and more expressive. Both films did share similarity, in that, they both had moments of grandeur and score explosion; however, Big Fish has more of these moments. The cause of this effect is due partly to how much room each individual composer had been given to express his ideas. Cold Mountain had too much of the same theme to allow a free ranged compilation of a variety of musical ideals. Instead, because of the seriousness of the film, Cold Mountain had to use scoring more so in a time and setting manner, often resorting to massive amounts of source music. While Big Fish also used source music, there was much more underscoring, more then was presented in Cold Mountain. The many stories and magical tales told by William, Edward, and Jenny allowed for Danny Elfman to develop all sorts of musical ideas and themes, as in the interesting underwater music at

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