Analysis of Film Music Argo





Film MusicArgo (1:17:30 – 1:22:30)

The critically acclaimed movie, Argo, was produced by the Warner Bros Company and released in the year 2012. Ben Affleck stars as the main protagonist in this movie, which he also happens to have directed. The film is set in 1979, based on real events that took place in the American Embassy in Iran. A number of employees in the Iranian American Embassy were held hostage, after an invasion by Iranian revolutionaries. In the midst of the entire fracas, six of the employees managed to escape from the overrun premises using a side door. They managed to find their way to the residence of the Canadian Ambassador, where they remained in hiding as the y awaited rescue from the American government. A CIA extraction expert, Tony Mendez, is sent in to extract the six. The extraction plan made them out to be a Canadian film crew scouting for a filming location for a made up movie in Iraq.

The selected clip describes the events that happen the day before the Tony and the group of six is set to carry out the escape plan. The clip sets off showing Tony sited in one of the rooms at the Canadian Ambassadors house, deep in thought with a drink in hand. The silence in the scene and Tony’s thoughts is interrupted by the squeaking sound of an opening door. In a hushed voice, Tony reassures one of the female hostages that she is ready for the next day’s plan. He tells her to join the others and relax as they wait for the next day. She leaves, gently slamming the door shut. The sound in that first bit brings out the tension in the atmosphere and anxiety facing the characters.

The next scene begins with the crackling sounds at the beginning of a as the record player needle is placed on the spinning record. A down tempo rock song begins playing and the six hostages are shown in the background having a good time. They make toasts and laugh heartily in the background as they have their proverbial “last supper” in anticipation of their escape the next day. In the foreground, Tony and the Ambassador converse in a somber tone on the predicament that lies ahead. The hostages are unaware that their extraction plans have been cancelled by the senior Washington officials. The two agree that it would be better if the six were not informed of the latest developments at all to avoid panic. They agree that it would be best for Tony not to show up the next day so as to avoid having that difficult conversation.

Tony leaves for his hotel room in the next scene. He takes with him a bottle of liquor and as he is driving in the deserted streets, we are shown him driving past a burning car. He arrives at his hotel and proceeds to drink straight from the bottle and smoke a cigarette as he sits on his bed, deep in thought. The music featured in this scene is a very rich and traditional Persian instrumental sound. A very frustrated Tony is shown in contrast to the happy, care-free, partying six hostages at the Ambassadors home. A wide shot depicting the sky at the break of dawn the next day is accompanied by middle- Eastern instrumental music in the next scene. The sound also features an Imam reciting morning prayers. The scene shows the six hostages preparing as they awaiting Tony’s arrival in the morning.

From the selected scene, one can conclude that the music composers and sound directors in the film, Alexandre Desplat and Water Tower Music, took considerable time in coming up with very appropriate selection of sound and music for the selected scene. The actors tone while they converse and the sounds applied in the first scene give views a sense of foreboding sad and terrible event to come. The silence employed further builds up the tension of that particular moment, only to be broken by the squeaking sound of an opening door.

The music and sounds used in the subsequent scenes as discussed above play a very pivotal role of placing the viewers in the contextual situation depicted by the accompanying visual track of the film. The rich traditional Persian instrumental music accompanied by the shot of the sky at dawn, with a mosque in the horizon is very effective at giving the viewer the feeling of being right there at the location being filmed. The soundtracks accompanied the selected clip are indeed suitable and effective.

Works Cited

Southall, James. “Argo.” Movie-Wave: Film Music Reviews. Web. 21 Oct, 2012.