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Voicing the CinemaFilm Music and the Integrated Soundtrack$
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James Buhler and Hannah Lewis

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043000

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043000.001.0001

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Peter Weir and the Piano Concerto

Peter Weir and the Piano Concerto

(p.207) Chapter 11 Peter Weir and the Piano Concerto
Voicing the Cinema
Erik Heine
University of Illinois Press

Australian director Peter Weir’s career has spanned five decades, working in both Hollywood and Australia. One typical trait in his films is the subject matter that typically falls outside of Hollywood spectacle, choosing to focus on characters and introspection. Another trait is the use of preexisting art music in nearly all of his films. Weir’s use of art music spans more than 400 years, drawing on a wide range of composers such as Albinoni, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Vaughan Williams, Glass, and Górecki, among others. One genre, the piano concerto, is used particularly effectively in Weir’s films. The second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor,” is used in two films, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Dead Poets Society. In The Truman Show, the second movement of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is used, in each case sounding a “voice of innocence” to the respective characters, a wordless voice that the characters are unable to articulate themselves. This musical voice protests the repressive structures that these characters confront, and the play between soloist and orchestra in these slow movements serves as a particularly apt musical metaphor for their highly regimented lives and their dreams of escaping the control.

Keywords:   Peter Weir, piano concerto, Beethoven, Chopin, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Dead Poets Society, Truman, innocence, repression

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