Movie: Swiss Army Man (2016)
Directors: Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert
Composers: Andy Hull & Robert McDowell
The term “elevator pitch” is commonly used to summarize a movie’s plot in a very short amount of time. Thus, the summary can be said in the same amount of time as an elevator ride. That being said, here’s the elevator pitch for today’s movie: There’s a hopeless man stranded in the wild, and he discovers a dead body that he eventually puppeteers to be his best friend and his multipurpose tool. The lonely man and the dead body help each other to find their way back home. Oh, and it’s called Swiss Army Man. Would you finance that? I wouldn’t blame you if you declined. However, I’m glad A24 accepted to finance the project because it was definitely worth it.
Swiss Army Man is brilliant. Strike that. Swiss Army Man is fucking brilliant. From its incredible boldness to its fantastic criticism of our society, this film is nothing short of amazing. I remember being in awe when I saw this movie for the first time. Within the first 10 minutes, the film was able to remind me of something very important. When the title came up on-screen right as the introduction ended, it reminded me why I want to work in the movie-making industry. This is the kind of movie you want to make with your friends, that makes you feel good, that makes you smile from start to finish, that has an amazing message behind it, that is incredibly well-directed, that has a wonderful attention to detail, that you know everybody from the technical team had fun doing it, and, to put it simply, that is just plain fucking awesome.
Even though I’ve just performed one of the biggest boot-licking paragraphs I’ve ever written, I still have something to talk about. Seeing as this is a blog about film music, you probably guessed that I was going to talk about the film’s soundtrack. This movie is far from being ordinary and its music reflects that very well. The composition style for this soundtrack is very similar to traditional composition. However, the composers were able to create something that feels similar but is a lot different from anything already out there. The whole soundtrack is a cappella music. I’m not a big fan of the genre and I didn’t know what to expect, but this film has a fucking fantastic soundtrack. Every instrument is a voice, every voice plays a different melody, and all the melodies collide to create something mesmerizing. There is an incredible amount of audio editing that went into this score and we should not overlook that. You can really feel the passion that was put into the entire project.
What’s even cooler is the fact that Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano (the 2 main actors) contributed to the soundtrack itself. A lot of the voices you hear throughout the entire score are actually their own. This adds a lot of effect to the feeling of loneliness and desperation that the whole movie sets out. It makes the film more personal and secluded, but it also puts you closer to the characters. In a year where people were praising La La Land for its boldness towards the musical genre, Swiss Army Man pushes the same boundaries even further and it does so with incredible fluidity. Don’t get me wrong, La La Land is a great movie, but Swiss Army Man was miles ahead in my honest opinion.
I can’t praise this film enough, just go and watch it. Trust me, you won’t regret it…
Interesting trivia: In an interview at the Sundance Film Festival, director Dan Kwan has admitted that he and co-director Daniel Scheinert were trying to create a movie filled with ideas and concepts they usually hate to see in cinema (survival and musical genres as well as a cappella music are just a few examples). Basically, they made something amazing out of things they hate… How fucking bold (and awesome) is that?
Song: Cave Ballad (feat. Paul Dano)
Song: Montage (feat. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe)
Thanks for reading (and listening). See you next week!