February 7, 2003

Ed's Underground

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In the best films, the soundtrack is never just an afterthought or a simple mood-setting device, but rather an integral aspect of the movie experience. David Lynch, certainly, has always ascribed to that theory, and Mulholland Drive can be viewed as the pinnacle of the score’s central importance to his films. In the context of the film’s visuals, Angelo Badalamenti’s simple but evocative score — performed by the Prague Philharmonic — takes on a soaring power, but it’s equally beautiful even without the accompanying images. From his lively (but subtly off-kilter and foreboding) “Jitterbug,” to the sheer, eerie simplicity of the film’s title theme, Badalamenti’s music conjures powerful images even in the absence of any definite context.

Surprisingly, Badalamenti’s score isn’t even the best part of Mulholland Drive. While much of the score serves the traditional role of background music to the on-screen happenings — and does wonderfully at that — Lynch also chooses to weave music directly into the film. Rebekah Del Rio’s a cappella Spanish version of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” (called “Llorando”) forms the basis of one of the film’s most affecting moments, as Del Rio performs it in the mysterious Club Silencio. The raw beauty of her expressive voice transports the main characters (and the audience) into a realm of complete emotional breakdown.

Linda Scott’s spritely, innocent 50s-ish ballad “I’ve Told Every Little Star” is similarly woven into the movie — it’s sung at an audition by an aspiring actress — but as part of the soundtrack a