' ' Cinema Romantico: "I Felt A Great Disturbance In The Force....."

Monday, September 10, 2007

"I Felt A Great Disturbance In The Force....."

".....as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced." This feeling came on somewhere between 8:00 and 9:00 PM last night during NBC's Sunday Night Football telecast.

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is a piece of music with which I believe we're all familiar. It's beyond famous, and justifiably so. The only problem is that long ago it entered that dreaded realm known as Public Domain. There are, of course, no restrictions legally that can stop this brilliant piece of music from being used and so if a new fat-free yogurt would like its 30-second commercial spot accompanied by the Ninth Symphony, well, no one can stop it from happening. And I state all this to show that tragically nothing is truly sacred.

There is a new Nike commercial featuring St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson executing a spectacular run as he twists and turns his way down the field and it just so happens the makers of this commercial chose a piece of music that is quite near and dear to my heart to highlight Mr. Jackson's make-believe run. The piece of music? Well, let's just say (deep breaths, Nick, deep breaths!) it can be located on a soundtrack for a film bearing the title "Last of the Mohicans".

It comes at the end of the film - or, to say it another way, it comes during the most dramatic, most powerful, most emotionally rich 10 minutes in cinematic history. The evil Hurons take away Alice into the mountains and so Uncas goes after her and Duncan spares Cora's life and then....so on and so forth. If you know me you've heard me spout about the end of this movie 68,000 times. And the music that underscores this (that underscores Alice's jump, for God's sake!) is used on this new Nike commerical.

Steven Jackson is a talented running back, no question, and while I don't know him personally he seems to be a fine gentleman who has refrained from going all Lawrence Phillips on us. But let's be clear, Steven Jackson is no Hawkeye. And he sure as s--- ain't no Alice Munro.

As I stated, nothing is sacred and so the cheapening of this music was inevitable but this is why disturbs me so much. I recall during childhood hearing those "beef -it's what's for dinner" commericals with Sam Elliot and always thinking of the music playing over these ads as the "beef song". Naturally, years later I learned it was actually a stunning piece of music created decades earlier by composer Aaron Copland. If Mr. Copland were alive today and met me and I told him that I would fully expect to be smacked upside the head. In fact, if he DIDN'T smack me upside the head I'd insist that he do so. And now I fear anyone who hasn't seen "Last of the Mohicans" may watch it and during the end - I re-emphasize that it is the greatest end in cinematic history - and say, "Hey! That's the Steven Jackson Nike Commerical music!"

And when that happens, I'll feel just like Obi Wan Kenobi did when Alderaan was blown to smithereens.


Rory Larry said...

Honestly I thought to myself, this commercial is eerily similar to Hawkeye's advance through the Hurons attacking the British as they marched away in defeat from the fort.

And I wouldn't be surprised at all if some young ad man who had seen and enjoyed Mann's movie was paying a weird sort of homage to it.

Although I'm not entirely sure what you are regretting here? Would you be okay if someone heard the song and thought "hey, Last of the Mohicans music". Because anything short of recognizing it as Beethoven would be as insulting as the Copland example you gave.

Anonymous said...

I don't know! I don't know what I'm regretting! I'm just mad! Okay?! I'm a mad person! Things don't make any sense! We're no longer guaranteed Big 10/Pac 10 in the Rose Bowl, Wilco's putting its songs in Volkswagon commercials, I can't get a Bells Oberon in Chicago, and now this! I'm mad as hell, Rory, and I can't take it anymore!

Wretched Genius said...

Whereas I watched the MTV music awards, saw Britney's performance, and have absolutely no illusions that the world is anything more than a dark, razor-lined abyss from which none of us will ever escape, but all of us must suffer through. I can forgive Nike using a film score, just as long as no footage from "Aliens" ever gets reused and redubbed to promote a TV company.


Oh God, oh dear God no. It can't be...

(falls to ground weeping)