Overtures: Will any filmmaker revive them?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Gary->dee, Jul 15, 2004.

  1. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    I love overtures to movies, especially ones for big, epic movies which I believe were the most frequent to get an overture before the movie began. I'm not talking about the theater playing the soundtrack to the movie while the lights are still up and everybody is still getting settled in. That's frequently done but it's not the same thing. True overtures are not used any more or at least not that I know of. It's like a lost art, making the audience sit in darkness while they're treated to a piece of music from the movie they're about to watch. It's the musical equivalent of "shut up, pay attention, prepare to be transported to the world this movie will show you". It prepares the audience for what they're about to see by giving them a taste with their ears. The last movie I know of that had an overture was 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture and it's a very nice overture by Jerry Goldsmith. The eloquent music transports you(no pun intended) to the world of Star Trek.

    Right now before a movie starts we get commercials(a lot of commercials in the UK- eegads!), trailers, warnings about not smoking and talking, a short snippet heralding the theater's sound system(whether it's THX, SDDS,etc.) and then the main movie usually starts. But what about a decent overature? I think the LOTR movies should have had an overture. They're huge, epic movies definitely worthy of an overture. I also think Star Wars: The Phantom Menace should have had an overture since it is the beginning of the saga. It would have been wonderful and appropriate to sit there and listen to Anakin's Theme in total darkness and then have the traditional 20th Century Fox fanfare and logo begin after it. Sometimes when I watch Phantom Menace I do that by putting in the soundtrack CD and playing Anakin's Theme before I watch the movie. It seems more fitting, like more of an overall experience.

    Do you think some filmmaker in the future will bring this lost tradition back, insisting that an overture be played before the main feature?

    Do you even care? Maybe you don't like overtures or they don't matter to you. Or perhaps there are hardly any movies these days worthy of having an overture played before the movie begins. I can believe that. White Chicks probably doesn't warrant an overture. Maybe the Spider-Man franchise but they're too pop-orientated. But occasionally, such as the case of LOTR, Star Wars, period pieces like Troy or King Arthur, they could put in an overture. Or has the audience no time or patience for such a thing any more? I think it would be a shame if we've seen or rather heard the last of the overture.
     
  2. Sean Laughter

    Sean Laughter Screenwriter

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    In this day and age, with theaters trying to pack in as many showings of a film a day as humanly possible, I think hoping for a "true" overture is a bit optimistic.

    I've never really been too fond of the "true" overtures anyway. I rather like the way some films approach it (most, if not all of the Star Trek movies do it this way, with First Contact being my favorite simply because I love the main theme) by having the opening credits be their own entity with score playing over them, rather than weaving the opening credits into an intro or expositionary part of the film. Panic Room also does this as well I believe.

    Then of course, you have some films that don't even have opening credits, "The Ring" comes to mind, in fact I don't think that one even has a title, just the Dreamworks logo and then the movie starts with no title or credits or anything.
     
  3. MarcusUdeh

    MarcusUdeh Supporting Actor

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    Gray I believe the last movie to have an Overturewas 2000's Dancer In The Dark.

    I'd welcome the overture back to commercial cinema if it were from a director like: Spielberg, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, or David Lynch.
     
  4. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    It'll only happen at special screenings. Otherwise, no.
     
  5. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    It'll never happen. Maybe the occasional art film - Dancer In The Dark is a good example - but in standard movies, it won't happen.

    But I think you're right - LOTR with an overture would have been great.
     
  6. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I was just thinking the same thing the other day, I love overtures. I have only experienced 2 in a theater, 2001 and Lawrence of Arabia.

    But as Sean said, long, stand alone opening credits are the next best thing (although far behind real oveertures).

    My current favorite is Spiderman, whose opening credits are unusually long, and do an excellent job (especially with the second installement) of putting you in the right mood for the movie. The music is absolutely gorgeous.

    --
    H
     
  7. David Rogers

    David Rogers Supporting Actor

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    Mark my vote against this. I go to the movies to watch the movie. Music is nice, and I enjoy it often, but I would rather not be forced to watch not only pre-show commercials and adverts, trailers, plugs for the theater and PSAs about cellphones and trash ... but now also apparently we should be forced to listen to a selected musical piece?

    Movies already start 20-25minutes after the stated time on the ticket after all the above mentioned items are finished running. Another five-ten minutes for a mood piece is not going to put me in a good mood to watch my film.

    Opening Credits are the modern replacement. You can either close your eyes and have the overture, or listen while you ponder the folks involved in the making. I rather enjoy looking at who's listed. Plus opening credits have become their own art form for most directors and producers.
     
  8. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    They should eliminate all pre-show junk on the screen and, for the big roadshow-style pictures, trailers as well. Then a 3-5 minute overture from the film is just right and is an essential part of the film experience if the film is made with one. But the days of making films like that are long gone, so is the art of showmanship in most places.


    Except the unfortunate trend lately is to have no opening credits.
     
  9. Amy Mormino

    Amy Mormino Supporting Actor

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    I am curious as to why the overture died out. I'm sure that most theatres would love to have them return- think of all the refreshment sales that could be made! Do filmmakers not like the idea of splitting up their movie? Certainly with lengthy epics back in vogue this would be a great time for the overture to return.
     
  10. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    You're confusing overture with intermission, a word I couldn't remember the other day at the Mammia Mia musical - I kept saying "entractes" (french for intermission :b).

    --
    H - not that anyone cares.
     
  11. Robin Warren

    Robin Warren Second Unit

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    I couldn't imagine an overture with a modern audience. Talk about impatient people. It would be interrupted by heckling, threatening language, people throwing crap at the screen, etc. etc. I just don't think that the average movie goer would be patient enough for this. I know for a fact that my wife would go insane!
     
  12. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Interesting. That's John Malkovich's movie right?

    I agree with Robin that modern audiences probably wouldn't accept overtures anymore, which is sad in a way. People want the movie to hurry up and begin and honestly I can't blame them when you're hit with 10+ minutes of fluff before the movie starts already. The art of showmanship gave way to extensive advertising. I also don't think audiences are sophisticated and behaved enough to sit through an overture anymore. In the past audiences were less time-consumed and probably appreciated the theater-going experience a lot more. Besides that though movies have changed and in the blockbuster-driven era that is the equivalent of fast food some fat had to be trimmed and the first casualty was the overture since it didn't play a part in the story in the movie.

    For me in a perfect world I think all that stuff would be eliminated. For example seeing Star Wars, LOTR or another epic you walk into a movie theater and take your seat. At exactly when the movie is supposed to start the lights dim, the curtain opens to a dark screen and an overture plays for about 2-3 minutes. Then the movie begins. But again only with the right movies, we're not talking an overture to Anchorman or the latest Hillary Duff movie.

    Well at least I can still experience overtures on my home theater whether by DVD, TCM or manually playing a piece of music before the movie. [​IMG]
     
  13. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    No, that was The Dancer Upstairs

    Dancer in the Dark is a musical starring Bjork by Lars Von Trier. It premiered at Cannes with the overture played in traditional fashion, ie. before the curtains were drawn. But since few theaters in the US have curtains and it was thought that audiences would not want to sit in front of a blank screen, a series of artwork was created that represents what the lead character (who is going blind) would see when she heard the music.
     
  14. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Ah thanks for clarifying that, Brook. [​IMG]

    Sounds like an interesting overture.
     

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