Anachronistic movie music?
May 19, 2011 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: At the end of Dirty Dancing, the characters dance to "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," which sounds much more a product of the '80s than the '60s. What other movies set in the past feature anachronistic music?

He's specifically seeking music that comes from within the "film world." The source of the music should be seen on-screen or the location of its source within the film should be implied.
posted by bethist to Media & Arts (55 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Moulin Rouge! probably counts.
posted by gubo at 7:25 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Most Disney animated films fall firmly in this realm.
posted by bfranklin at 7:28 AM on May 19, 2011


A Knight's Tale?
posted by anthom at 7:31 AM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do time travel movies count? (i.e. the obvious Back to the Future Johnny B Goode scene)
posted by jozxyqk at 7:35 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Marie Antoinette.
posted by mkb at 7:37 AM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


A Serious Man (set in 1967) contains references to Santana's Abraxas (1970) and CCR's Cosmo's Factory (1970).
posted by gauche at 7:37 AM on May 19, 2011


In case it helps you with your research, 'music that comes from within the "film world"' is called diegetic music.

You might find Anachronism in Film Music: a brief introduction to the music of "The Devils" by Sergio López Figueroa an interesting read.
posted by bcwinters at 7:38 AM on May 19, 2011


Hmm, I guess I borked the link to diegetic music. My bad.
posted by bcwinters at 7:39 AM on May 19, 2011


A Knight's Tale!
posted by mochapickle at 7:48 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Inglourious Basters, set in world war 2, has a scene set to David Bowie's "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)".
posted by afx237vi at 7:50 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plunkett & Macleane
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:57 AM on May 19, 2011


(Specifically this scene)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:03 AM on May 19, 2011


He's specifically seeking music that comes from within the "film world"

What does this mean, exactly? What types of music should be excluded?

How about this example, which I haven't ever actually seen: in the mid-1970s a film called All This and World War II was assembled using World War II newsreel footage with a soundtrack of Beatles covers.

And from the early 1970s, Zachariah, "the first electric Western", featured appearances by the Country Joe and the Fish and the James Gang.
posted by Rash at 8:06 AM on May 19, 2011


Oh, I missed the requirement for diegetic music. I haven't seen Marie Antoinette, so I can't say.
posted by mkb at 8:08 AM on May 19, 2011


Absolute Beginners. It's set in late-fifties London and features eighties music influenced by the era, but it's still quite eighties.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:08 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grease
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 8:12 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ella Enchanted
posted by mochapickle at 8:23 AM on May 19, 2011


What does this mean, exactly? What types of music should be excluded?

A soundtrack playing over the action doesn't meet the requirements. You should see a band playing the song, or the song should be on a radio or some kind of sound system within the movie. In other words, the characters are hearing what the viewer is hearing.

Thanks for all the responses so far!
posted by bethist at 8:26 AM on May 19, 2011


He's specifically seeking music that comes from within the "film world"

What does this mean, exactly? What types of music should be excluded?


He means the music must be being played within the setting of the film, so that the characters in the film can hear (or are singing/playing in the case of Back To The Future) the music.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:27 AM on May 19, 2011


Inglourious Basters, set in world war 2, has a scene set to David Bowie's "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)".

bethist is looking for films where the source of the music is or is implied to be from the film's reality. I.e., whether or not the characters can hear the music. For example, in Star Wars, the Cantina Band would count but the Imperial March would not.
posted by justkevin at 8:28 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I always thought Grease 2's music was wildly anachronistic.
posted by hermitosis at 8:31 AM on May 19, 2011


laz Buhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet, The DiCaprio/Danes (awesome) one.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:31 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you mind examples from the future? Like where something is set in the year 2075, but the music that people happen to listen to in the future JUST HAPPENS to sound like what was popular in the year the movie came out?
posted by hermitosis at 8:33 AM on May 19, 2011


Just watched The Fighter and it had some post-Y2K music though it was set in the late 80s.
posted by Brodiggitty at 8:34 AM on May 19, 2011


Oh duh, scratch mine. Read the fine print...
posted by Brodiggitty at 8:35 AM on May 19, 2011


Blazing Saddles, which is basically a vehicle for anachronisms, includes a black railroad work crew in the Old West singing a Cole Porter tune.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 8:41 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the clarification -- therefore my first guess doesn't qualify, but "Zachariah", definitely. Also, Streets of Fire.
posted by Rash at 9:02 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you watch a western that's set in the mid-late 1900's and there's a scene featuring a string band odds are pretty good that both the instrumentation and the style of music will be wrong for the period... sometimes there will be a mandolin player playing an A or F style mandolin and a steel string banjo played clawhammer style, or even worse, bluegrass style. Mandolins were generally bowl-backed and not popularized in country-ish genres up until the early 20th century. Likewise, banjos would have been fretless with lower-tuned gut strings and skin heads and played in the stroke style.

The music of the period sounded like this, not like this.

Other than Back to the Future III, the only other specific example I can think of is a scene in the missionaries' camp from Seraphim Falls... but it's a common enough phenomenon that I've been conditioned to cringe whenever I see a band appear in a period movie like that. Maybe not as anachronistic as your friend is looking for, but boy is it irksome.
posted by usonian at 9:10 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


That Thing You Do is set in the early 60s, but the film is oriented around a one-hit wonder band called, appropriately, The Wonders. The song, written in a similar style of early-60s bubblegum pop, was written by the bassist from Fountains of Wayne.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:18 AM on May 19, 2011


Grace of My Heart comes to mind. The music is reflective of the different decades it comes from, but I believe it was all original music and the soundtrack did really well.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 9:28 AM on May 19, 2011


laz Buhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet, The DiCaprio/Danes (awesome) one.

Doesn't this take place in modern day California?
posted by Sara C. at 9:37 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


My father-in-law is a big music fan who grew up in England in the 60's... he was complaining to me about The Boat That Rocked/Pirate Radio which is set in a pirate radio station in 1966. Despite the wealth of awesome music from 1966 and the years previous, lots of the music played on the radio station in the movie was released after that date.
posted by Gortuk at 9:37 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just about every Oscar nominated song (which is why I've Had the Time of My Life is in Dirty Dancing) for the last 20 years.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:49 AM on May 19, 2011


Doesn't this take place in modern day California?

It takes place in an imaginary city called Verona Beach. It's never specified to be in any specific county or locale. Although, most of it was filmed in Mexico City.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:57 AM on May 19, 2011


But it doesn't take place in the past, so no music in the film can be truly anachronistic. It takes place either "now" or "in 1996", depending on how Film Criticism you want to be about it.

As a fifteen year old in the south, I took "Verona Beach" to be a fictionalized/stylized version of something like Venice Beach or Long Beach. That said, I'd never been there at the time, and I haven't seen the movie in ages. I'm aware that it wasn't filmed in Santa Monica or anything, but something about the "feel" of the movie always said SoCal to me.
posted by Sara C. at 10:10 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uh, my response got ate, but Back to the Future!
posted by lettuchi at 10:10 AM on May 19, 2011


I wouldn't be so sure that That Thing You Do would count; even though the song was written by a contemporary composer, he wrote it in the style of the period the film was set in.

However, the film Time Bandits has a scene in which the gang entertains Napoleon with a rendition of "Me And My Shadow".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only slightly anachronistic but how about when she gives Nicholas Cage the lyrics to "She Loves You" and he sings it as 'She Loves You Ooo Ooo Ooo" in Peggy Sue Got Married?
posted by Rash at 10:22 AM on May 19, 2011


Ya, Back to the Future, though it's wholly intentional.
posted by mazola at 11:08 AM on May 19, 2011


Along that line, I submit the original 'Lapti Nek' in Return of the Jedi was wildly out of place given the timeframe, hence George Lucas replaced it with the more appropriate 'Jedi Rocks' in the Special Edition.
posted by mazola at 11:13 AM on May 19, 2011


Not sure if Napoleon Dynamite was supposed to be set in the 80's, or if the 80's just haven't left the mid-west by the time Napoleon Dynamite was supposed to be set in, but doesn't he dance to a 90's NSync song on tape in his room at some point?
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 11:18 AM on May 19, 2011


The Moroder version of Metropolis (works well though).
posted by Locobot at 11:21 AM on May 19, 2011


I remember Eddie and the Cruisers really annoyed me with that faux 70s Springsteen music somehow popping up out of nowhere from the mind of a rock and roll genius. I guess that was why he was supposed to be a genius. Or a time traveler.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:23 AM on May 19, 2011


Eddie and the Cruisers was set in the 60s which featured the song On the Dark Side by John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band.
posted by cazoo at 11:23 AM on May 19, 2011


never.was - He dances to a Jamiroquai song from the early 2000's actually, both in his room and on stage. I do believe that movie was supposed to be modern-ish day...maybe...
posted by ruhroh at 11:31 AM on May 19, 2011


Donnie Darko was set in 1988 but had a party scene where Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," which was released in 1995, played on the stereo. (wiki)
posted by pmdboi at 1:14 PM on May 19, 2011


Would you count the scene in "Blazing Saddles" with the full Count Basie Orchestra in the middle of nowhere? Or heck, just about any of the music in there, from opening to closing credits!
posted by easily confused at 1:50 PM on May 19, 2011


Love Me Tender, Elvis' first movie. Set just after the Civil War, a few anachronistic performances of rockabilly songs are featured. (We'll ignore the title song, as its new lyrics are sung to the tune of the 19th c. ballad "Aura Lea".)
posted by Rash at 2:01 PM on May 19, 2011


Donnie Darko was set in 1988 but had a party scene where Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," which was released in 1995, played on the stereo.
Oh, good grief. Words fail me.
posted by genghis at 5:53 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Donnie Darko was set in 1988 but had a party scene where Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," which was released in 1995, played on the stereo.

Oh, good grief. Words fail me.


Okay, my mind initially bluhed at this too, but further wikiing revealed there was a rerelease in 1995 which had a remix done of it. If the remix is playing on the stereo this makes a lot more sense.
posted by solarion at 6:19 PM on May 19, 2011


@Rash, that was a joke, I think. The song hadn't come out yet, so, of course, Cage wasn't singing it right with the embellishments.
posted by acoutu at 9:42 PM on May 19, 2011


Thanks for the clarification -- therefore my first guess doesn't qualify, but "Zachariah", definitely. Also, Streets of Fire.

Streets of Fire is set in 'Another time, another place'
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:00 PM on May 19, 2011


In the Star Trek reboot, a young James Kirk plays the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" (from 1994) while driving.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 7:02 AM on May 22, 2011


In the Star Trek reboot, a young James Kirk plays the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" (from 1994) while driving.

that makes sense, though -- it's someone from the future playing a song from "the past." What the question is about is someone from the past playing a song "from the future." Like, if it were young Abraham Lincoln playing "Sabotage."

Actually, I thought James Kirk playing "Sabotage" was kind of awesome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 AM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The music in Napoleon Dynamite sounds to be mostly from the late eighties, but my understanding is the film is contemporary - mentions the internet, etc.
posted by werkzeuger at 8:23 PM on May 25, 2011


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