Monday, July 26, 2010

Warning! This soundtrack listing contains spoilers!

And so does this post, so don't read any further if you don't want to know the ending of Man on Fire.

With every new Tony Scott film I see, the director's relentlessly jittery filmmaking style makes me more and more convinced he's a hack. Man on Fire was no different, and perhaps epitomized his approach as much as any film he's made other than the execrable Domino.

But I was never in it for the filmmaking with Man on Fire. I was in it for the soundtrack.

Specifically, I was geeked to see the movie -- well, geeked enough to see it six years later -- because of the Nine Inch Nails song that played in the trailer: "The Mark Has Been Made," from The Fragile. I already devoted a post to the use of my favorite band in the movies -- you can read it here. I neglected to mention Man on Fire in that post, probably because the rest of the movie did not look good enough to compel an actual screening. But I knew I would eventually see it. This must be the weekend for that, as I said the same thing about Running With Scissors yesterday.

I soon found out that there were at least snippets from a couple other Nine Inch Nails songs in the movie, but it was a different song that compelled me to go to IMDB to check out the soundtrack listing. Namely, there was an ethereal choral song in the first act that sounded to me like it was sung by Lisa Gerrard, an Australian singer whose songs sound kind of like the forlorn hymns I might associate with Ireland. I became aware of Gerrard's talents through another film, Henry Poole Is Here, where she sung a song that moved me so much, I bought it on itunes shortly afterward.

Now, most people would probably wait until the movie was over. But we film buffs are notorious for needing our curiosity to be satisfied immediately. Especially if I'm watching a movie by myself, and movie-watching etiquette doesn't enter into it, I'll pause to look up what other movies a certain character was in, etc. And just so I didn't forget to do it later on, I thought I'd check immediately to see if that was, in fact, Lisa Gerrard's voice.

I did find her name in the soundtrack listing. The name of the song she sings in the movie? "Creasy Dies."

I should probably tell you at this point that John W. Creasy is the character Denzel Washington plays in the movie.

So there I was, about 30 minutes into an interminable 146-minute running time, and I already knew the ending.

Not that this was some great surprise. Everything about the movie was setting it up to be a redemption tale of Creasy's character, for the "sins God would never forgive him for," which he mentions in the beginning (but are never elaborated on in the script). In movies like this, where a Charles Bronson type systematically kills every scumbug who had anything to do with some motivating atrocity, he's going to die smiling in the third act, having achieved some measure of vengeance or accomplished some heroic goal.

But did I really need the soundtrack listing to ruin it for me?

I never would have thought I needed to exercise the same type of caution with soundtrack listings as I do with DVD chapters. If I want to find where I was in the movie, I don't like to use the chapter menu, because often times, the very chapter names they choose will reveal some key plot element. If I'm watching The Crying Game for the first time, and am returning to it after a brief interruption, I really don't want to stumble across a chapter called "Dil's Penis," now do I?

What really gets me about naming that Lisa Gerrard song "Creasy Dies" is that the same song plays like four times in the movie, and only during the last time does the life actually snuff out of Washington's character. So not only is the song title an inexcusable spoiler, but it's too specific for the way the song is actually used in the film.

So yeah, that was the one reason I didn't like Man on Fire. (Please note my sarcasm.)

Before we leave the oh-so-interesting topic of Man on Fire's soundtrack behind, I thought I'd mention a couple other interesting things about it. IMDB lists no fewer than six Nine Inch Nails songs, when in fact I could only identify two. ("The Mark Has Been Made," like "Creasy Dies," was played about four different times.)

Then there was the fact that there seem to have been uncredited thefts from the soundtracks of other movies. IMDB mentions three uncredited songs from Changing Lanes, four uncredited songs from Abandon, and one from Against All Odds, oddly enough.

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