Favourite movie soundtracks – Forrest Gump and Departures

Alan Silvestri’s Oscar-nominated soundtrack from Forrest Gump consists of 4 major themes. The most well-known is the opening theme (also referred to as the ‘Feather Theme’). It is one of the most beautiful pieces I have heard in a movie in modern times. It works just as well whether played on piano or with strings (as in the closing scene). I love it for its simplicity and for how perfectly it matches with the on-screen visuals, particularly the emotional ending. Although Alan Silvestri continues to score for big blockbusters like The Avengers, Captain America and GI Joe, I feel his recent work has been quite generic.

Joe Hisaishi has been a long term collaborator of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. His scores have complemented Miyazaki’s films for years without ever dominating them (I mean that as a compliment). Then in 2008, Hisaishi composed the soundtrack for the multiple-award winning Japanese drama Departures (Okuribito), about a cellist (played by former J-pop idol Masahiro Motoki) who returns to his hometown and inadvertently takes up a new job as a mortician. He stands firm against the ridicule of his family and eventually excels at his new job, eventually performing the ‘encoffining’ ceremony on the body of his own estranged father. The film deals sensitively with themes of death, duty and filial piety, beautifully supported by Hisaishi’s score. The cello solo played by the lead character is the most well-known piece…wistful and poignant.

The feather theme and the cello solo would probably classify as the most emotional pieces of music I have heard on film.

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