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The Music

 

Peter Jackson:

With this movie, probably more than any other I've done, the camera moves were integral to the scriptwriting. I'll tell you where that came from: the music. We read very early in our research that Pauline and Juliet were both obsessed with Mario Lanza. Neither of us was familiar with his music, so we went out and got some of his records, and before we started writing we played through them and came across several songs that we really liked. One of the very first ones we heard was "The Donkey Serenade".

 

Fran Walsh:

Well, we knew that was important to them because Pauline had named one of her novels "The Donkey Serenade."

 

PJ:

When we heard it, just the life and vitality in the song immediately indicated Steadicam. [laughs] It immediately told you you had to have a moving camera. We chose all the songs that were in the movie, and, in the case of "The Donkey Serenade," wrote scenes around them. I found it a great visual tool. It's never happened before in anything I've done - I mean, I've never had the music in advance. We had these songs playing while we were working to get ourselves psyched up to write a scene. At the same time, the music helped me visualise, so that visualisation ended up going down on the page. Of course, once you actually arrive on the set, and you have the actors and the camera people there, things can change. I don't regard anything that's written into a script in terms of a camera direction as being locked in stone.

 

Peter Dasent wrote the original score; in the second half of the film, particularly, Dasent's score builds tension and a tremendous sense of momentum.

 

The Songs and their significance

* "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," a traditional hymn sung by a girls' choir of 100 voices.

* The framing reference to religion is established; the lyric foreshadows Pauline and Juliet's association, emphasizing a strong element of longing:

Just a closer walk with Thee,

Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,

Daily walking close to Thee,

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

 

I am weak but Thou art strong.

Jesus, keep me from all wrong.

I'll be satisfied as long

As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

 

     It introduces into the film several key themes that will reappear. However, the hymn was not one of the hymns that would have been sung by the students of CGHS in 1952 (according to former students of the school), so its choice is thematic rather than for authenticity.

     It forms a symmetrical pair with the closing song; both mention 'walking together,' as a literal image of a spiritual concept, in their lyrics.

     Although it is a hymn, sung to Jesus, the words could be seen also as reflecting the sort of relationship Pauline developed with Juliet; the second verse, which she joins in after a scowl from the head, could be seen as a challenge or even a threat.

 

continued on next page

 

 

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