Movies That Would Play Great With a Live Orchestra

Movies live orchestra

Radio City Music Hall

Would bringing live music back into theaters improve your experience of watching a film? Or would it feel like an old timey distraction? Eight-seven years ago, before movies were able to synchronize sound to the actual picture, having live musicians and orchestras perform as the film played was the norm.

The Artist showed audiences how silent films relied on the music to convey the feelings and emotions of the actors on screen in lieu of dialogue. But as film (and the film industry) moved into 1927 – film technology began to advance and recorded dialogue and sound synchronization became the way of the future as theaters began swapping out orchestras for speakers.

But should theaters bring live music back to the movie going experience?

We say yes.

There is so much competing for audience’s attention these days with movies going straight to VOD (bypassing theaters completely) and a mini “theater” in most people’s hands thanks to smart phones – something that has some theaters even considering allowing phone use during a film just to keep people in the theater!

Going to the movies is meant to be an escape from reality for a few hours. It was a magical journey to lands unknown and stories untold that you experienced with a group of a people in unspoken participation. A comedic moment reverberates more in a packed theater just as hearing sniffles as you are dabbing your own eyes makes you feel like you’re not alone even if you do not know those seated around you.

But adding more to the experience may not be what keeps that magic and that immersive feeling alive. We don’t need a text message with insider info about a scene we are watching to make us feel more involved – we need a way to reconnect with that scene.

The Dissolve reported last week that J.J. Abrams‘ Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness will be hitting the road to have different local orchestras play the film’s music live as the film screens – a rare experience these days. Those who live in Los Angeles are lucky enough to experience hearing film scores played live thanks to The Hollywood Bowl’s tradition of having John Williams conduct his iconic film scores live each year, but not all movie fans have that option.

Michael Giacchino’s scores for both Star Trek films are certainly impressive, but the idea of getting to hear them performed live alongside the film is a throwback idea, but one that actually feels fresh and exciting.

This idea got us thinking about other recent releases we would want to watch as their scores were performed live.

The Dark Knight

Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard‘s score made The Dark Knight feel like an epic event as it punched up the action and helped round out one of Gotham’s most unpredictable villains. Imagine listening to this score, which combines orchestral and industrial elements, live as the music more than jumps off the screen, it lives in the room with you.

The Social Network

The idea of Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor taking to the conductor’s stand was an intriguing one and the score he created with long-time collaborator Atticus Ross proved he was more than up to the task. The score for The Social Network mixes Reznor’s signature electronic style with orchestration to create a film that became more than “the story of Facebook,” it is a story about struggle – for power, for respect, for connection.


The question of how cool it would be to hear Zimmer’s score for Inception performed live was answered at the film’s premiere back in 2010, but this only proved that Zimmer’s score for the film is amazing live and would be even better to hear performed alongside the film itself. Zimmer’s score for Inception is as iconic and memorable as the visuals in the film and hearing this powerful music live as the twists and turns of the story unfold would make Christopher Nolan‘s dream world feel all the more real and terrifying.

Allison has always been fascinated by the power music has when paired with an image – particularly its effect in film. Thanks to a background in recording and her days spent licensing music to various productions (including, of course, movies), Allison can usually be found sticking around to see all the songs noted in a film’s credits and those listening to her iTunes inevitably ask, “What movie is this song from?”

Read More from Allison Loring
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