Soundtrack in Scorpio Rising

Although the short film is full of powerful, shocking, and sometimes unsettling visual imagery, the soundtrack in Scorpio Rising stood out to me as the film’s most influential element. The 60’s themed music filled the void created by the lack of any diegetic sound or dialogue with hit pop or rock songs that fit the theme of each scene. This can be seen in one of the first scenes where Scorpio is working on his motorcycle. The song Wind Up Doll compliments the physical but quiet scene by playing “wind up noises” right as Scorpio is using his wrench, acting in an almost diegetic manner. This makes the scene feel more realistic since expected sounds can be heard, allowing for a more immersive experience for the viewer.

The soundtrack also complimented the otherwise soundless film by providing context that may have not been as easily implied without it. Take the “I Will Follow” scene for example:

The lyrics “…and where he goes I’ll follow…” are played repeatedly accompanying images of both Jesus and a character dressed in all black. This song, as well as the clips of Jesus, allow the viewer to imply exactly who this man is and what his role is in the organization with no other context. Without the music or the accompanying clips, he seems to be nothing more than a man standing alone on what appears to be a stage. However, the music changes the whole meaning of the scene and establishes him as a leader with the same kind of influence as Jesus.

Is the role that the soundtrack plays in this film strictly reserved for experimental films? Can you think of any mainstream films where the soundtrack is as important as it is in Scorpio Rising? Which film had the better soundtrack: Scorpio Rising  or Dog Star Man?

2 comments
  1. I enjoy the question “Which film had a better soundtrack?” because Dog Star Man was silent, but as I commented on another post, I made my own soundtrack for the movie. Every time the solid orange screen came up I would start singing Thinking Bout You from Frank Ocean’s album Channel Orange. When the screen flickered with lightning-esque patterns, I would start singing Vertigo by Mini Mansions. So in a since, I enjoyed the idea of being my own sound designer and getting to experience the film with what I like specifically. I’m a full believer in the power of soundtracks in films, both experimental and mainstream media. As a very simple example, in the montage sequence at the beginning of the Pixar movie “Up”, the happy piano music is playing until Ellie dies, at which point the key changes and makes it significantly more sad. In that minor key change, we as viewers can feel the “hurt” of the characters.

  2. I had a similar reaction as you to Scorpio Rising, and found the soundtrack to be particularly intriguing. It’s interesting how the lyrics were used in a manner that revised the initial meaning in the song, such as the female singing about her boyfriend while the biker prepares to meet with his boyfriend. Also, I think it’d be a fun experiment to replace the soundtrack with some modern pop songs instead. For example, “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry could be substituted into one of the initial scenes with a similar impact to the original soundtrack. The song’s idealized version of love would provide a similar contrast to the dark symbolism in the film, and the heterosexual relationship assumed in the song would provide the same sense of irony.

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