Let’s Talk About: Spotlight
This is definitely the movie that, well, got me into movies. I don’t want to pull a Scorcese and say that some films aren’t “cinema”, but I definitely can draw a line between my days focused on Harry Potter and Marvel, and the days after I saw Spotlight.
Investigative Journalism Works
One memory that stands out to me about Spotlight was the aspects of investigative journalism. Around the time that I started to become interested in journalism as a career, Spotlight was snatching awards left and right during award season. I remember when they won the Oscar for Best Picture how several journalists I had been following were so excited about investigative journalism getting the spotlight (pun intended) on a world stage.
Despite the sadness of the true story, I always admire the ways that films can act as ways to remind people of real world tragedies in such moving ways, showing the real superheroes that work in our world. In this case journalists. The film ultimately only fed my desire to work in the field since.
One of my Favourite Scores of All Time
My absolute favourite thing about Spotlight, outside of the amazing performances and the showcasing of investigative journalism, is the score.
Composed by Howard Shore (who also worked on several of the Hobbit movies), Spotlight’s score is by far one of my favourites of all time.
The tone of the score overall is sad and gloomy, which reflects the storyline and tone of the film. As the film is dealing with such an atrocious, true story, the score ultimately builds on this tension and works to create an experience for the viewer as they are carried throughout the depictions of real, difficult, emotional investigative journalism.
As the excitement of the film builds, so does the score. Maintaining the minor key and undertones of eeriness, the chords and pitch of the score build on top of each other to create a feeling of movement and excitement within the viewer. Spotlight is not an action movie, but as the storyline peaks, the score reaches a point of fast pacing and maintains the energy of viewers. It also makes my heart beat faster even when I’m just streaming the soundtrack.
Overall, the same few chords and rhythms that are carried throughout each piece of the score are manipulated to emphasize the scene. Not only does the score help build and maintain the anticipation, but it also works to emerge the audience into the true emotion of the film.
One of my favourite things that scores do is when they come full circle. The same general theme that has been built on throughout the film comes to a suspenseful end and takes the audience full circle in a way. Although the first and last tracks are different in their own ways, the ways in which they are similar are why it feels like a full circle moment. The closing track feels as if it is not “finished”, which is how the movie works as well. This story was ultimately the beginning to a long and continuous fight against evil. This is felt as the score ends and feels as if it could and should go on, reflective of how the story in real life was by no means finished.
Overall the score doesn’t over-take the storyline at all in any cases, which is ultimately important when telling such heart-wrenching true stories like this one. But the way that each track works with the scene to build tension or excitement, or to accentuate the eeriness of the scene’s events is so amazing.
If I had to compare Spotlight to another film, I think I would choose The Social Network, which happens to be one of the most liked films of all time. Although far from being twin, these two films both show the behind the scenes of real life social events that have ultimately resulted in permanent changes to major institutions.