Monday, November 3, 2014

Symphonic Bliss

So I went to see the movie Gladiator yesterday. Wait, what? Didn't that movie come out over 14 years ago. Well, yes it did but this was an unique showing and I feel a once in a rare chance to experience something truly astounding.

This showing wasn't a usual movie going experience. Yes, there was the smell of popcorn in the air, but this wasn't your usual cinema as this was Powell Symphony Hall home to the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Your probably wondering what the connection was but what made this showing of Gladiator so unique was that there would be no soundtrack coming from the speakers. Instead, the orchestra would be playing the soundtrack full on with a chorus in the background and a singer who could stand in for the original singer, Lisa Gerrard.

I had never been to a showing like this but I have loved my experiences at orchestra playings before, I really enjoyed the movie Gladiator, and I wrote many of my chapters to my 2nd book to the ending song, "Now We Are Free" so this was going to be both enjoyable and emotional for me.

The movie began it at first it was difficult to adjust to this different movie-going experience. On one hand the audio levels, naturally, were different and the words to the movies did have sub-titles. At the same time below the film were the orchestra and the conductor whom had a screen of the movie on his podium with cues to keep on track. It was a rather quick transition to becoming acclimated to this different experience.

During one of the musical segments that was heavy on drums and percussion my sensory issues with such things started to kick in and it took all I had to not let it overwhelm me. This is something that doesn't typically happen with anything recorded but this was different because this was live. The unique thing about this is that, for me, drums that are accompanied with other instruments has a minimal impact on me compared to drums by itself. Why is this? I don't have the answer to that, but thankfully that segment of the movie passed and it was back to being engrossed in 180AD Rome.

Over time it was easy to forget that the music being played wasn't prerecorded but was being played right under the screen. It was seamless and being able to feel the music made the movie all the more believable and the ability to suspend reality was utterly easy.

The intermission came and I've never been more anxious during an intermission because this was an experience I didn't want a pause to. Call it being engrossed, enthralled, transfixed, or any other awesome sounding word like that and that was me. I'm the type of person that, well, it's hard for me to get into things. By "get into things" I have what I call my "Kansas" (new to my blog? check my glossary) but outside of that it's rather difficult for me to get excited about much of anything. This was different though. This was oh so very different.

After the intermission and when the movie picked up the pace and the music became more intense to the climax with the final battle I savored every moment. I realized early on that this is an experience that probably I will never have again. During the whole movie I was awaiting the end and "Now We Are Free" because of the memories of writing chapters and coming up with concepts to that song.

When the final battle was over, and Maximus's fate was shown, and the final three songs started in secession, I felt chills. I've only heard one other song in person live that had this effect (One Winged Angel from Final Fantasy VII) but I was having this effect. With drums I say I can feel the sound, but with these three songs being played live matched up to the pictures I was feeling the music. All of my life I've had a hard time understanding some people's love of music and saying that they can feel the soul of it, or the emotions of it and I shook it off and, well, thought it was just a bunch of fluff. But as Elysium went to Honor Him and then Now We Are Free started I was at the singer's and orchestra's mercy. I was immersed in the music and emotions ran wild like a herd of stampeding buffalo in the wilderness. I tried but it was futile to hold back the tears. Thankfully I wasn't the only one as sniffling and the "I've just got a scratch under my eye" ruse to wipe away a tear or two was common.

As Now We Are Free went into the orchestral piece of the credits, and each name passed through the screen I knew each note I heard was one note closer to the end and when the amazing final note hit and it was over I had no hesitation in joining the full house to give a standing ovation. I'm also one not to give a standing ovation as it's, well, I'm just not one to clap in public but this was different. This wasn't just a showing of a fantastic movie 14 years later, this was a spectacle; an event that if you ever have the chance to see don't think twice about it! One caution though, your future movie watching endeavors may seem a little depressing because you'll know that nothing, and I mean nothing will compare to hearing a movie soundtrack live while watching the movie.

1 comment:

  1. My family and I saw The Wizard of Oz at Powell Hall a couple of years ago and it was one of the most awesome performances I have had the privilege to attend. You're right, after a bit you completely forget that the music is being played live as they seamlessly meld themselves into the movie experience. I'm glad you got a chance to experience this with a movie you already had a connection with. It is something else!