There’s a really cool cliche that has come into the fold of modern cinema. It is something that I love very much. Whenever a film is trying to make something epic, they add a choir to it. But I have also found additions of it that are quiet and beautiful poetry. Here is my list paying homage to some of the best scenes, either epic or quiet and beautiful that had a bit of choral touch to them. I hope you enjoy. Links to each song will be on the title of it.
10. Flight to the Ford
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
This was a piece that was a nice mix of quiet and epic. And I actually really love that. The scene in which it happens is when Arwen comes and takes Frodo to Rivendell after he is stabbed by the Nazgul. The introduction of her is beautiful, not to mention that she has one of the most badass lines ever – “if you want him, come and claim him!” Arwen is a pretty cool character in the first film. This was a series that had a lot of choir numbers, but this one in-particular comes to mind. A really cool note is that all of this song is in Elvish. Most choir numbers are just made up language, but here, it is in the actual language of that Elves. That’s kind of cool. In any case, a cool scene, with a badass line. What more can you ask for?
9. The Battle
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
This was just a pure epic scene, but the setup was brilliant. It really had a great introduction to this song. It’s kind of a pity that the sequels have all been kind of boring. This was a very good film. The scene where this song plays is where the army of the now-fallen Aslan have gathered on the field of battle, ready to finally settle things with the Witch Queen of Narnia. It was so epic. One cool addition that wasn’t on the soundtrack was that the song suddenly cuts off right before the two armies collide and you can only hear a heart beating. That’s pretty sweet. This isn’t in an actual language, but that’s okay. The scene carries more weight than the song could have. But it was most definitely a very nice addition to it. This was a cool battle, if one likes the old-school epic where people are charging over open field and beating the shit out of one-another.
8. The Great Migration
The Land Before Time
This is on the totally opposite spectrum of what this song was trying to capture with it’s style and tone. It is very quiet, very subdued. The choir here is soft, adding to this scene by making a very mysterious and whimsical atmosphere that was made to make you think. This song was played right at the beginning of the film. It shows this world that Don Bluth made. It’s kind of ironic that he became such an awful filmmaker after being such a brilliant one. This song very subtley added so much to this movie. I bet most people don’t think about it, but it is part of the reason this is such a great film. Each aspect was just perfect. One of the most beautiful and tragic of films, this was a great opening to it. I seriously recommend you check it out, if you ever have the time.
7. King of Pride Rock
The Lion King
This was a number which was featured at several parts of the film. The one that I like most was the bit that accompanies the scene where Simba takes his rightful place as the King of Pride Rock. It was so beautiful and tragic. The choir may have just been making up words, but you know what, I don’t care. This was beautiful. This film was kind of ironic in a lot of ways. For one – Mufasa was kind of a dick. Think about it – the hyenas didn’t want power, they wanted food. If he hadn’t of banished them to a wasteland, they wouldn’t have stood with Scar. Nice little irony that Disney put in there. In any case, this was a nice piece that has a large build-up and then explodes open in a kind of joy. It starts with tragedy, and leads to joy. That’s pretty nice. But all in all, still a good movie. If you have a chance, listen to the song Be Prepared. There are two people who are singing that. It is amazing how you can’t tell when one ends and the other begins.
6. The Final Decision we all Must Take
Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance
This was an powerfully epic number to this film. This piece was featured as one of many great choral pieces during the final battle sequence of the film. Well, the final prolongued battle sequence. It is when the pilot who has stolen Unit Two realizes that she isn’t going to be able to beat the Angel she is fighting with her Eva without letting go of all restraint. So she used a backdoor code in the Eva to unlock it’s “true form,” thus enabling her to fight ten times better than before. However, it is not enough. Then Unit Zero joins the fight, and the to team up to unleash one last attack against the Angel before finally failing. In the end, it falls to Unit One to beat this monster. This song adds a lot of epic awesomeness to it. Add to that – it’s in English, so you know what they are saying. It’s amazing. Another part of one of my favorite movies.
5. Angel of Doom
Evangelion 1.0: You are (Not) Alone
This was a perfect song for this piece. It captured every element of the scene that it was in perfectly. It captured the hopelessly tragic situation that the main characters find themselves in. It captures the ugliness of the battle they are fighting. It also captures the triumph of Shinji overcoming his own weakness to protect the person he cares about. It is featured in the last battle sequence of the film, where Shinji is trying to destroy an Angel. He is using a powerful energy rifle to hit it, but the first shot missed. Now he has only one more chance to destroy it, because the Angel has already blasted them with an energy weapon that nearly leveled a mountain. He knows that if he misses again, it’s all over. Humanity is doomed. The Angels will merge with Lilith, the creator of all life, and will destroy the Earth. This song was incredibly powerful, and actually sucked you further into this part of this film. Like the previous selection, this one is also in English, so you can understand it. But like the last one also, you don’t care. The action is too entrancing. Seriously, this was a good reinventing of this film series. For sure.
4. Ave Maria
I know I’ve praised this movie to death, but this scene was such a perfect merger with the sequence that came before. The final number was a mix of Modest Mussorgski’s “A Night on Bald Mountain,” and Franz Schubert’s immortal classic “Ave Maria.” After the incredibly raw and powerful scene that had come before it, this was such a perfect merger. Ave Maria here is used to show the people of the town below Bald Mountain going off into the woods. What they are going to do, you don’t know. It is a song showing the coming of dawn after the devilish beast Chernabog had been beaten, for a time. This is not epic, but calm. The soothing gentle tones of the choir here were so beautiful and so harmonious that it just makes this scene so great. The visuals in it were also amazing. The pieces of ruin that are littering the landscape and the fact that all you can see of the people are robed figures with lights, walking in a line to an unknown destination. It’s beautiful, quiet, and mellow. Everything a good scene in a film should be. It was a great way to close out an amazing film.
3. Whispering Winds
The Land Before Time
I didn’t want to include the same film twice, but in this case, I kind of found it unavoidable. This song was so beautiful and so tragic that I cry even when I hear it. Something about Don Bluth in the 80’s was that a lot of his movies were UNBELIEVABLY tragic. This film was no exception. If you look at the cover to your right, you’ll see a happy bunch of dinosaurs, but the truth of the matter was that this film had a lot of horribly sad moments. The one this song features, along with the scenes it features afterwards was no exception. Littlefoot’s mother dying was so beautiful and heart-breaking. Then the scenes following where he is alone. There is one where he think a shadow on a wall is his mother and goes joyfully running over, just to find out it is his own reflection. It makes you cry buckets! The choir here is also mellow, like in the other pieces, but it really is great because it adds to the tragic animation and the tragic tone. You want to feel so bad for this kid. He is alone in the world, totally and completely alone. There is one part of this song that is uplifting, where a little pterodactyl is finding a cherry. He sees how sad Littlefoot is, and tries to cheer him up. It fails, and it just is so sad! This was a great song, and the only reason it isn’t on the top of this is, well we’ll get to that.
Now, this is from a TV show, but I am making an exception here because this scene was amazing! It really was. The visuals were great, the song is incredible. It is just one word, but that word captures everything about it. I think that the lead-in to this scene was what made it even better. It shows Light and L having an actually very emotional sequence between them. It is hinted very strongly in this scene that L had a great deal of respect for Light, seeing him as his equal, but also hinted at there being a deeper connection, that perhaps L was romantically attracted to Light. If you watch the episode this came from, you’ll see. Disagree if you will, but I caught a glimpse of it. In any case, this song plays when L is killed by Rem. He looks over to Light, who had orchestrated this dead, and there is this moment between them. No words are spoken, they are just together, looking at one-another. L is dying and he realizes the truth – Light is Kira. It was a great scene from a really good show. If you are ever going to get into anime, this is one I would definitely check out!
And the best piece of choir music in a film is –
1. The One-Winged Angel
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Now, a lot of you will lose respect for me because I put a really, really badass action sequence above a tragic moment like Littlefoot’s mother dying or something like that, but honestly, this was so cool! Sephiroth is a great character. I really wish they would remake Final Fantasy VII because it could use it. The thing about this song and the scene that it’s in is that it is one of the few saving graces of what was an otherwise boring movie. But this song saves a lot of it. The battle it is in is very cool. The animation is gorgeous. But it is so lifeless aside from that. It reminds me a lot of the previous Final Fantasy film that that respect. The original game, FFVII was basically telling the story of why Sephiroth is the ultimate badass ever. The moment you fight him, you’re dead. It’s just established. And this version of the song recaptured that in a really cool way. Of course, this film wasn’t that great, but this song was amazing. The harmonies are perfect, the fight that goes with it is just as epic, and it is just cool. If you see the film for no other reason, see it for this fight. It’s freakin’ awesome!
So, what should I tackle next?
Until next time, a quote,
“I will never be, a memory.” -Sephiroth, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children