Saturday, October 24, 2015

Motiffs That Transport

So this past Wednesday was October 21, 2015, otherwise known as Back to the Future Day. I think by now we all know what that date signifies, but for those of you who are living under a rock, that was the date Marty McFly and Doc Brown go forward 30 years from 1985 to 2015. I’ll admit to a little bit of sadness when you realize the entire trilogy now all takes place in the past. What was neat about Wednesday, October 21, 2015, was the promise of hope for the future. You knew you weren’t going to get flying cars…but there was hope, right? To those of us born and raised in the 1900s, the year 2000 was a magical year. Course when we got there, Y2K didn't happen. And, somehow, January 1, 2000 looked pretty much like [pick your date] 1999.

Question: Was October 21, 2015 the last great ‘future’ date in pop culture and/or science fiction? It’s certainly the last positive one I can think of other than Star Trek. “The Martian” is set in the future but it’s never dated. Are there any new dates? There’s The Running Man in 2017 and the future Blade Runner showed us for 2019. Not sure we’ll get to either one of them, thankfully.

On Wednesday, I re-watched Back to the Future Part Two since it takes place on that day. After the universal logo, the screen goes dark and there is that four note motif that opens all three films. Instantly, those four notes, conveying whimsy and wonder, put me in that mindset. It got me to thinking about other musical cues that instantly transport you. Here are a few off the top of my head:
  • Jaws (two notes, tons of menace)
  • Star Wars (first blast of brass)
  • Superman (opening five note, a clarion call for goodness)
  • Raiders (strings are all I need, but the brass really bring it)
  • Star Trek (opening three notes channels the sense of wonder)
  • Batman ’89 (opening mysterious vibe before the theme kicks in)
  • Jurassic Park (swirling strings)
  • first Harry Potter movie (where the theme is played on the flute-like bells)
  • opening Dick Dale riff in Pulp Fiction (not a theme per se, but hearing that anywhere takes me to Tarantino's LA)
All good themes. What are some themes y’all like whose opening riffs take you to that place you want to be?