Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Gollum Song and Taare Zameen Par


Before I begin - you can watch the Coraline sneak preview here and read up an interesting discussion on its animation here.

So ... I was inflicted with watching Taare Zameen Par again today. Not that I don't like the movie. But I don't like it enough to watch it twice! Besides, it makes me cry and want to be a child again. :((

Anyhow, I didn't discover anything new to write either. This post was very much in my mind the first time I saw the movie. This is my first attempt at doing an 'auditory' analysis. I don't know what word to use for this. It is similar to the visual analyses I do, except that it is in the domain of sound and music – and most probably rather naive and idiotic. Perhaps it is one of those meaningless connections I make like Saawariya and Sin City. But here goes ...

When I first heard the song Mera Jahaan (the one that plays when Ishan bunks school and has his day out on Bombay's roads) in Taare Zameen Par, I was immediately struck by its similarity to The Gollum Song. Mera Jahaan begins with a lone child voice singing --

A little sweet, a little sour,
A little close, not too far,
All I need,
All I need,
All I need,
Is to be free!

The voice is accompanied by only gentle, barely audible bass strings in the background. The song then picks up with a chorus of child voices singing the same lines and after that an adult male voice starts the main song. At that moment the similarity ends.

The Gollum Song has similarly performed in a childlike voice. The singer is Emiliana Torrini who is definitely adult. But the voice is childlike. And it is perfomed in a similar vacuum of any other sound. Just gentle strings accompainment in the background.

The entire soundtrack of the Lord of the Rings is a materpiece. But even among this somewhat large body of musical work, The Gollum Song and May It Be by Enya stand out as masterpieces among masterpieces. Here are the lyrics for The Gollum Song. You can hear it on YouTube too.

One will immediately notice similar themes running through The Gollum Song and Taare Zameen par. There are accusations against a child or a chillike character (Gollum), there is the resulting isolation and loneliness and the desperate cry for help. Perhaps a deep seated angst too. How these emotions are brough forth through the use of an isolated child voice in both songs in remarkable.

This connection made me wonder at two points. I have never before seen Gollum as a Childlike character. I have read that Frodo, Sam, Gollum, Merry and Pippin can be seen as the different aspects of the same psyche when one does an archetypal analysis. I can now see this as becoming a blog post in its own right.

Second, I wonder if Shankar, Ehsan, Loy did take inspiration from The Gollum Song. Mind you, this is not an accusation of copying or plagiarism. Far from it. 'Mera Jahaan' is worlds apart from The Gollum Song and the similartiy is in mere technique. The Lord of the Rings has revolutionized the way fantasy films are made in Hollywood and I have now seen a few films being heavily influenced by its visual language (300 for example). I wonder if the same has happened in the music world.

I also wonder if that is the way culture always works. We, as a society, work collectively on some cultural aspect, honing and perfecting it until we create a masterpiece. And then we get influenced by and start copying it again and again till it becomes a cliche or a stereotype and loses all meaning.

6 comments:

  1. an interesting observation.
    Made me download the LOTR soundtrack :)
    As far as your wonderings go:
    I don't know how one CAN look at Gollum as a childlike character, apart from his childish(somewhat)stubbornness when it comes to the ring.
    As far as the inspiration goes,It is probable that Shankar Ehsaan Loy did take it from there.

    On a different note, i think the whole LOTR soundtrack is worth an auditory analysis.

    Taare Zameen par, a second time.. seems like someone has a lot of free time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @ Aneesh - Free time? Nahi yaar. Just that it was a girl who asked me along and she offered free dinner too! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Gollum song - WTF??

    aach, when I try to read any of your other posts they make my browser crash after 2 secs. is it just my safari? or is your blog evil?

    ReplyDelete
  4. @ Headmistress - I think this is just Safari for you. Can't you get Firefox for Mac? Yes, I know seems rather cheap to install Firefox on Mac but believe me, it's worth it.

    The Gollum Song -- why not? Are we not all moronic ramblers at some time or the other?

    ReplyDelete
  5. interesting.....that u rememembered the gollum so well as i am sure you wud have heard it long before u watched taarey zameen par.....

    this also makes me realise that i too have the LOTR soundtracks d/lded and waiting for my ears for years. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Pls Tarre zameen par was a rockstar...dare you say anything about it. :)

    ReplyDelete