There is much broohaha about that snippet of music used at the end of The Artist to great effect. So much so, though, that you have to wonder about the music in The Artist – does it fill in emotion? What would happen if you scored that scene with a different piece of less moving music? Does it have the same impact? I suppose the same could be said of any movie. But I do sometimes wonder what watching The Artist without any music at all would be like. At any rate, here is a wonderful send up of the concept of Vertigoing your work, a Press Play Mashup Contest.

I did this one — and another one for No Country (my two favorite directors’ movies) — I have to enter it in the contest but I think it is pretty damned good.

And here are some of my favorites – but you’re invited to enter your own:

More after the cut.

Here is my No Country for Old Men one:


The Big V from Will Woolf on Vimeo.

Mean Girls Vertigo’d from Katie Aldworth on Vimeo.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day – Vertigoed from Dan Seagraves on Vimeo.

ALIEN “Vertigoed” from William D'Annucci on Vimeo.

And the original:

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  • Panopticon

    I saw The Artist a couple of months back before the Vertigo music situation had been widely publicized. I guess I am in the minority but I thought it was hugely distracting to use such an iconic score for a film with such a different tone and mood. It took me completely out of the film. I’m curious if it did the same for other Vertigo fans. It may be a small subset but considering the Artist is pitched directly at film geeks I can imagine that others felt the same way. It bugs me that people who don’t know Vertigo very well will heap praise on the Artist’s score and not even realize that the most pivitol piece is from another film.

  • Ha, that was great with TGWTDT.

    On topic, I hated the use of Vertigo in The Artist. For a film trying so desperately to be a 100% copy of a silent film, this anachronistic moment was a big misstep.

  • Sasha, I love this site but I think the folks railing about the use of the “Vertigo” track in “The Artist” need to move on. After all, so many movies sample music. All kinds. From other scores, like when Steven Spielberg sampled “When You Wish Upon A Star” in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”; to popular tunes, like Martin Scorsese has done time and time again in his films. Should Quentin Tarantino be despised for using the song “Putting Out the Fire” from “Cat People” at a pivotal scene in his movie “Inglorious Basterds”? No. No more so than Spielberg or Scorsese or any other filmmaker who makes such decisions. Some people just want to stir up controversy, or knock a front-runner, or forward a personal agenda. And to answer the question of whether or not an original piece of music for that scene in “The Artist” could have been equally effective, the answer is yes, of course it could have been. But the point is moot. For his reasons, Michel Hazanavicius chose to sample Bernard Hermann there. The track works there. And he did it with affection. To continue to slam “The Artist” for something like that is tired and petty.

  • JoeS

    An important correction. THE ARTIST used more than a “snippet” from VERTIGO. It was a long suite that underscored the most climactic FULL SEQUENCE from THE ARTIST.

    As a long-time collector of film scores, VERTIGO ranks at the very top in the history of cinema, IMHOP.

    This was not as many have dismissed it, akin to AIRPLANE taking the dum-dum-dum stinger from JAWS, or any of hundreds of cases where a tiny theme was ‘borrowed’ or paid ‘homage’ to. Nor, is the same as Scorsese using a re-orchestrated version of Herrmann’s CAPE FEAR for his remake (same goes for Van Sant’s PSYCHO).

  • Everybody thinks Sasha and I agree too often.

    Great. Here’s one time we don’t. I thought the extended use of Herrmann’s love theme from Vertigo was a disastrous decision at the end of The Artist. I couldn’t stop cringing, wondering when would it ever end.

    It was far from being a snippet. It was a full 6 minutes! It’s a complete self-contained composition from first note to last, lifted right out of Hitchcock and plopped down at the end of a movie that already had a serious problem (for me) with it’s heavy-handed score.

    For a film that was so anally meticulous in replicating the exact visual appearance of silent films, I thought entire score for The Artist was jarringly anachronistic — and the use of Hermann’s music for such a huge stretch of time took me right out of the movie and really annoyed the hell out me.

    Ruined the ending. And I see no point. What’s the purpose of doing that? What’s the aesthetic meaning behind that choice?

    And I’ll say in advance: — anybody who can give me a philosophical explanation for what its use is meant to symbolize, I’m not gonna like that excuse either.


    These mashups, on the other hand are brilliant. Love ’em. Really clever, I could watch them all day. Fun, even thrilling to see how versatile Herrmann’s music can be,

    But these amateur clips just make my point. How fuckin insane would any director have been to have used this huge chuck of instantly familiar Hitchcock score in another movie! It’s ridiculous to imagine Herrmann’s music being used in these mash-up films, so I don’t understand why nobody thinks it’s a klutzy choice for The Artist as well.

    Kim Novak was being a little loopy in saying she felt raped — because for me it has nothing to do with the unassailable integrity of Vertigo.

    For me it just screwed up The Artist. Ruined the climax. Really horrible.

  • Rashad

    Anyone else think the Vertigo theme isn’t even good?

  • I fail to understand what the fuss is all about.

    The Vertigo score was used for one reason – it’s as appropriate a piece of music as there is for the material.

    Films use pre-existing scores all the time! Imagine almost any one of Kubrick’s films without the well-known classical music he used. Or what about the many song scores, like those in Tarantino, Scorsese, Wes Anderson films? Or the jazz scores strewn throughout Woody Allen’s films? What would Drive be like without those iconic songs, or The Tree of Life without all those brilliant pieces of pre-existing classical music? Brief Encounter without Rachmaninov, Apocalypse Now without Wagner, Raging Bull without Mascagni – all greater films for the creative decision to use non-original music.

    Just because the Vertigo music is from another film rather than from another source does not change its impact in The Artist. It has no less a place in that film as any other non-original excerpts used in any other film. Indeed, even in The Artist – the Vertigo score is not the only piece of non-original music in the film.

  • Scorsese uses whole songs. Tarantino used almost the entire David Bowie song. I wasn’t discussing only snippets or sampling. And hundreds of other movies have used other tracks that are known elsewhere, be it pop tunes or 6 and a half minute orchestral compositions. Why are you beating up on “The Artist” so? The failure to understand a creative decision is baffling. It may not be what you’d prefer. And if it ruins a movie for you, that’s your problem. I guarantee you that most viewers of “The Artist” have no idea that that piece is from “Vertigo.” And I’d bet most Academy members wouldn’t either. After all, in 1997 the Academy nominated “The Full Monty” for best score, when it had less than 3 minutes of original music. But to even the composers who vote on such categories, the effective use of the songs in that film to enhance its comedy netted a nomination. And a win! So, let’s stop picking on Hazanavicius already. It was an artistic choice, one that some of you disagree with and even despise. Personally, I’d rather hear that kind of thing in a movie, knowing its clearly a filmmaker’s homage, than narration like at the beginning of “The Descendants” that tells the audience exactly what the story is going to be, what the feelings of the main character are, and how we’re supposed to feel. Talk about over-emphasis and egregious underlining!

  • The Vertigo score was used for one reason – it’s as appropriate a piece of music as there is for the material.

    I just don’t get that, Paddy M.

    So there is no better love theme than Bernard Herrmann’s piece for Vertigo (Let’s say that’s a given.)

    So therefore, anytime a director needs that music, snatch it up, all 6 minutes of it, plug it in. Done! The film’s actual composer can stop sweating about it. He can take the week off. Let Bernard handle it.

    This is such a crazy choice — and you know how I know it’s crazy? Because Nobody Else Ever Does It. It’s Not Done.

    This isn’t Mix-And-Match. It’s supposed to be an original movie.

    Here’s how I see it: Michel Hazanavicius turned the end of his movie into an amateur youtube mash-up.

    Great. BP, here we come. Thanks, youtube meme!

    What he did? 100 other people are doing for this contest Sasha has shown us here. (and you know what else? Sasha has done it better than Michel Hazanavicius did.)

    He’s too wrapped up in his own wink-wink gimmickry.

  • hitchem

    I agree with Ryan. IMO, the problem isn’t that the movie used a piece of non-original music; that sort of thing happens all the time, and the score itself was, of course, intended to emulate scores from the 20’s and 30’s. The problem is that the Vertigo piece is iconic, and I can’t imagine that anyone who has seen Vertigo wasn’t thinking about the moment where Kim Novak is transformed. It completely distanced me from the film during the scene that should be the most emotionally intense.

    So it’s not just that the piece was appropriated, but that it was appropriated in a way that didn’t aid the film in any discernible way. It would be as though a filmmaker tried to use Thus Spoke Zarathustra in an earnest and non-ironic way, without actually intending to conjure 2001 in the mind of the viewer. It would be catastrophic.

  • Pierre de Plume

    I’m in agreement with Ryan on this one. While it’s true that filmmakers use pre-existing songs all the time and apply them to movie moments, what happened in The Artist stands alone. The remainder of the film presumably occurs to the accompaniment of an original score (the quality of which is a separate issue). The Vertigo music, however beautiful it may be, has been inserted into what’s essentially the most important, dramatic sequence in The Artist. To me that’s a major statement, direct or implied. It’s too derivative. One might argue, I suppose, that the entire film is sprinkled with derivation. That doesn’t change the fact that the filmmakers chose to use nonoriginal music for their film’s centerpiece. It does not sit well with me.

  • No, Ryan. I’m certainly not suggesting that there is no better love theme than Vertigo’s. And it has nothing to do with giving the composer less to do – I think Ludovic Bource has done more than enough for The Artist! But a great piece of music shouldn’t necessarily be confined to one use and then retired. And I’d far rather the entire piece was used than just a sample, awkwardly shafted in and out on demand.

    Using a pre-existing piece of music is nothing to do with letting the film’s composer off the hook. It’s about using appropriate music, which may also serve as a touchstone for eagle-eared audience members. Herrmann’s music fits the material perfectly, so what’s the problem?

    And this is done. This is done all the time. I couldn’t name the hundreds, probably thousands of films which use pre-existing music, there are just too many. But many do spring to my mind, and I’m sure they spring to yours as well, Ryan. What’s the difference between all of those films and The Artist?

    I fail to appreciate what your point is, Ryan, beyond the fact that it distracted you because you were familiar with the music.

  • Bob Burns

    I was massively distracted by the use of Beethoven’s 7th in TKS.

  • Ryan, virtually all of “Inglourious Basterds” was done at that way. (BTW…did you rail at Tarantino for using whole pieces from movies Morricione or Moroder scored?) He did it in “Kill Bill” as well. And Ryan Murphy does it in every episode of “American Horror Story”. In fact, he’s used Bernard Hermann repeatedly there. If you don’t like the practice, that’s one thing, but to criticize Hazanicius and say nobody else ever does it is factually wrong. And showing that your argument is holding less and less water.

  • Kim

    Bernard Herrmann sure knew how to score a film. Cape Fear, Citizen Kane The Man Who Knew Too Much, North By Northwest, Psycho, Taxi Driver and Vertigo, just to name a few. I highly recommend Citizen Kane: The Essential Bernard Herrmann Film Music Collection.

  • And this is done. This is done all the time. I couldn’t name the hundreds, probably thousands of films which use pre-existing music,

    There was a strain of the Reznor-Ross score from The Social Network in the diner scene in Drive. I’m fine with that.

    I thought that was a very cool suave nod. It was there, and just as you pick up on it — it dissolves away, it’s gone. That was lovely. I love borrowings like that.

    This thing with The Artist. It’s not a hint, not a nuance, not even an appropriate homage (because the Vertigo scene is intimate close-up and The Artist sequence is all the way across down, it’s basically a cross-cut suspense car-chase, fer chrissakes!)

    It’s the entire 6-minute composition. This is like the Strauss waltz spacestation docking sequence in A Space Odyssey.

    I just refuse to believe that 70 different composers in Hollywood could not write music every bit as effective for these 6 minutes of The Artist. Are you telling me it’s impossible for anyone to write any better music to use here?

    This is just absurd to me.

    I hope every Best Picture winner from now on ends with the Vertigo Love Theme. I’ll be mad if they don’t.

  • Good choice, Sasha. I’ve also seen a Seven video with the Curb Your Enthusiasm score played at the end, which was alarmingly hilarious…

    My problem with the appropriation of the Hermann score involves both the film’s pretense of holding original music and also how incredibly notable Vertigo’s music remains. Jeff York points out Tarantino’s use of Cat People (great song BTW) in Basterds, but Tarantino always litters his films with pop music and old scores. He was also intentionally used for jarring effect. Also, “Cat People” exists as a pop song well-outside the Schrader film, and it appeared on Bowie’s smash Let’s Dance LP. Vertigo’s “Love Theme” stays tied wholly to the film and thus feels very much out of place in a movie already struggling to seem original despite its focus on acting as an homage.

  • AJ

    The only emotion it evoked in me was distraction. Why were they using music so immediately recognizable? Especially when they hadn’t done it anywhere else in the film?

    It so distracted me that I have trouble remembering what even happened at the climax on the film. A fire?

  • Anthony

    Drive Drive Drive Drive?????

    Drive Drive Drive Drive, Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive
    Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive
    Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive

    Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive!!


  • Ryan, virtually all of “Inglourious Basterds” was done at that way.

    I make a distinction between music written for another movie and music that was never written for a movie.

    A freestanding piece of music that exists as a pop-song or classical orchestral composition is free of any previous visual connections (and more IMPORTANTLY free of associations that carry prior iconic cinematic impact) .

    I don’t mind filmmakers putting on anachronistic musical hats borrowed from iTunes.

    I do mind Hazanicius using Hitchcock’s toothbrush to floss his movie. ick, it’s creepy.

  • Thas ok.

    I’m not gonna fight about it. Most of you are going to think this Vertigo music is fine and dandy. Enjoy!

    I hate it.

    Nobody can convince me not to hate it.

  • No, Ryan, that’s not what I’m suggesting. And I’m sure Ludovic Bource could have written something equally good. But I imagine Michel Hazanavicius, or someone else highly involved in the making of this film, heard Herrmann’s Vertigo and thought how appropriate it might be for this sequence in this film, and thought, why not?

    The thing is, Ryan, you say you love borrowings of scores. Is it just that you like the nod to previous works? The knowing wink? I do too, but I prefer music in films to be used as deep in context as possible. Snippets and extracts of scores used in films bring me out of the action, and often very successfully so. Your example of Drive is an excellent one. But the Vertigo theme in The Artist is complete. The fact that the entire theme was used keeps it in context with the rest of the film. Were it not for the fact that it’s pre-existing, there’d be nothing different about it. It functions in the same manner that every other piece of music in the film functions.

    Are you opposed to the use of non-original music used in its full form, the form in which it was intended to be heard, in films? Like that Strauss sequence in 2001?

  • Fincher’s use of Enya’s Sail Away in Dragon Tattoo is in no way parallel or comparable to lifting the score from Vertigo and inserting it into The Artist.

    One is a twisted disturbing giggle-gasp shock of incongruity.
    The other thing is just a lazy gimmicky whim gone wrong.

  • ‘A freestanding piece of music that exists as a pop-song or classical orchestral composition is free of any previous visual connections’

    What about opera? Indeed, the themes, imagery, narratives intentionally evoked by much classical music surely fit the same purpose.

    Herrmann’s music is good enough to function successfully as a freestanding piece of music in its own right. It is a great piece of music to use for this sequence in The Artist – why must it be limited to one cinematic usage? It serves both films equally well.

    Ryan, would you have enjoyed the film any more had you not been aware of the fact that this music was not an original composition for The Artist?

  • thought how appropriate it might be for this sequence in this film, and thought, why not?

    You’re right. You’re absolutely 100% correct. I am in complete total agreement.

    He thought, “hey, that works. Why not!”

    Like I say, I really hope we have at least one Best Director contender every year from here to eternity who thinks, “hey, Vertigo works here. Why not?!”

    (shh, quiet. Genius At Work.)

  • menyc

    “It’s not a hint, not a nuance”

    In what alternative world would use ‘nuance’ to describe The Artist?
    The Artist is a hit-you-over-the-head, subtlety-free ball of cotton candy.
    That’s it’s intention and it’s successful.
    Getting upset over anything about The Artist seems mind-numbingly pointless.

    Maybe a better 2011 film music question is ‘why did Carey Mulligan sing NYNY
    for 37 minutes in Shame.

  • In what alternative world would ‘nuance’ describe The Artist?

    I’ll shut up for a while now.

  • Ryan, you don’t have your facts straight. “Inglourious Basterds” is filled with music cues from other films. So are many movies. And remember, your argument was that it’s never done. Never done. Your words, not mine. If you can’t get past the fact that this kind of thing is done in everything from Tarantino’s films to “American Horror Story” than I guess nothing will convince you. But don’t make outrageous statements to justify your opinion. The practice is done all the time. And for many film buffs, that’s fine. I love Herrmann music too. Clearly, Hazanavicius did, and was going for homage. So it didn’t work for you. Move on. And quit trashing a terrific film, with or without that one musical cue.

  • Do you feel the same way about David Lean using Rachmaninov for Brief Encounter? A film far less original in its content, and none of the music was composed specifically for the film either.

    What’s the point in declaring a piece of music unusable after its first usage? Composers have recycled old works for different purposes since the birth of modern classical music. It’s as if to say, “No! Stop! This has been used before! We ought not to be allowed to use it again! It’s against the rules!” It’s a creative decision to use this music, perhaps not as creative as writing new music, but a creative decision nonetheless, just as it’d be a creative decision to use pre-existing sets or costumes in a film.

    I don’t think there’s much point in debating this, though. It bothered you, Ryan, and it doesn’t bother me. Neither of us will be able to convince the other.

  • Ryan, would you have enjoyed the film any more had you not been aware of the fact that this music was not an original composition for The Artist?

    It would have to be a pretty obscure piece of music for it to pre-exist, and me to ever have heard it, and not feel the tug of an echo.

    I can’t name the title of songs or classical works worth a damn. But I can hear 2 seconds of a musical score and tell you what movie it’s from. That’s just how I’m wired up. It’s a curse.

    But yes, Paddy M., if Hazanavicius had used another composition that was totally unfamiliar to me, I would not have sat there baffled for 6 minutes wondering what he was trying to do.

    But that’s just the point, isn’t it? Hazanavicius intentionally picked one of the most famous themes in movie history to thrust in our faces so that he could be certain a million moviegoers WOULD notice it.

    So I have to wonder why? He wanted us to notice. But Why? I just don’t get it. The climax of a movie is not where I need to stop thinking about the characters and instead ponder a lesson in the philosophy of cultural amalgamation.

    (You’re an excellent guy to debate about this, and I appreciate you being so patient with me while I’m so knotted up about it. Thanks)

  • One downside of the auteur movement involved directors with small successes being hailed as untouchable geniuses. Maybe Hazanavicius has more stylistic intuition than deep thought. He might have just thought “Hey, Herrmann sounds pretty good to me!”

  • Do you feel the same way about David Lean using Rachmaninov for Brief Encounter?

    I have no problem with a director taking any pre-existing music and using it on the soundtrack. So long as the music pre-existed as a standalone composition.

    If music was written to be heard in a concert hall or on the radio, then it was not created by One Composer as a Collaboration with One Director.

    Herrmann collaborated with Hitchcock. Their work together is too intertwined for me to hear it any other way.

    It would have been troubling to me if Hazanavicius had digitally inserted Marilyn Monroe standing over a subway vent with her skirt billowing while George Valentin walked down a 1927 street.

    It’s technically possible, and I won’t be surprised to see Hazanavicius do something like that in his next movie.

    She’s so pretty! “Why Not?!”


  • John W

    I do not agree with the assessment that it’s okay to use classical music but not film music from a different film. Yes, film music is written for the film it’s used in, but it also exists on its own. I consider Howard Shore’s “The Lord of the Rings” to be its own work of art, as well as important to the film itself.

    The idea that it’s okay to use certain music just because it wasn’t originally written for a visual image is ridiculous. The composer writes music to communicate something the feel inside themselves. I guarantee that when Beethoven wrote his 7th Symphony, he wasn’t thinking about King George VI. If you have no problem with this, then you shouldn’t have a problem with film music being used either.

  • I’m getting a lot of practice spelling “Hazanavicius” today.

    maybe that’s his whole intention.

  • “Inglourious Basterds” is filled with music cues from other films. So are many movies. And remember, your argument was that it’s never done. Never done. Your words, not mine.

    I’ve been really imprecise with my wording then, you’re right. Let me refine that to say what I mean.

    nope, I don’t have any problem with several measures of pre-existing music mixed in as cues. I love those aural teases.

    Am I the only one who sees the difference between a few seconds of a “music cue” and 6 full minutes of another movie’s score? (I’ve clocked it, trust me).

    Surely I can’t be alone on this issue of a wholesale cut-and-paste of this duration.

    [sulking now]


    For me, the Vertigo music works in The Artist. The director, Michel Hazanavicius, used this composition out of affection for Alfred Hitchcock, among the other many directors Michel paid homage to, such as Billy Wilder, Stanley Donen, Fred Zinnemann, and such films as Sunset Boulevard, The Lost Weekend, Singin’ In the Rain, A Star Is Born, and even The Portrait of Dorian Gray starring George Sanders and Angela Lansbury. The Artist is a valentine to Hollywood, past, present, and future, and its theme of change, or failure to change, is timeless, like Bernard Herrmann’s Vertigo score. Unfortunately, some of us dyed-in-the-wool movie buffs immediately recognize the music’s origin, and yes, it does distract momentarily; yet, if you just focus on the drama the music is underscoring, you will feel and know the director’s intention. The result is at first jarring, but ultimately clever and emotionally brilliant.

  • John W

    Quentin Tarantino uses “L’Arena” from Ennio Morricone’s “The Mercenary” for an entire four and a half minutes in Kill Bill: Volume 2. Is that somehow okay because most people wouldn’t recognize the piece?

    For myself, it makes the scene one of my favorites of all time.

  • Andrew

    This is so petty.

  • zazou

    I agree with Andrew.

    I got all that. Would be hard to miss.

    you say
    “if you just focus on the drama the music is underscoring”

    I say
    if only we could just focus on the drama the music is underscoring”
    I can’t focus in this instance. Unable.

    I understand that it works brilliantly for a lot of people, maybe for most people.

    It only bothers me and Kim Novak, apparently.

    (when I first heard Kim Novak took out a full-page ad to protest the use of this music, I hadn’t yet seen the movie. I was thinking, “girl, settle down. It can’t be that bad.” Because I was expecting it was maybe 20 or 30 seconds, tops. Now I see why she’s bothered by it.)

    Comes down to individual inclinations and personal taste, like anything else, right?

    We could both get identical oral sex from the same person, and most people would be, “Wow, thanks! Excellent innovative use of tongue! I loved that.”

    And I’d be, like, “What the hell are you doing down there? Stop it. Don’t use your tongue that way. What’s your intention? I don’t get the meaning of that tongue action. If that’s your idea of homage, lemme tell you: it’s distracting. You have now ruined this blowjob for me.”

    I’m sure Kim Novak knows exactly what I mean.

  • Mel

    Beautiful analogy, as just thinking about blow jobs distracts me from this topic! Bravo, Ryan…..genius intentions or did you just say, “hey, this fits!” 😉



    “Comes down to individual inclinations and personal taste, like anything else, right?”

    Yes, Ryan, it does come to personal preferences, and I can understand your POV. If nothing else, Michel certainly has struck a raw nerve in the movie lovers’ world.

  • Sasha Stone

    Well so my thoughts on the subject.

    1) The Weinstein Co is no doubt happy about this because it makes something exciting happen to the Boring Frontrunner Syndrome and maybe makes people want to fight for the movie. So that’s why I ignored the Kim Novak thing.

    2) I didn’t think a lazy use of music so much as a reference to a movie that Hazanavicius uses throughout the whole film – there are Citizen Kane references, etc. They seem clever to me.

    3) On the negative side I do think he took a massive short cut in using that score. Moreover, I am surprised the Academy didn’t disqualify the film for score seeing that the pivotal scene uses a different composer’s music. But then again they worship the Weinstein Co so…I wonder how effective the film’s ending would have been with a different score. That’s all. I don’t know how easy or hard it would have been to convey emotion. Just not sure.

    4) It was a little obtrusive, sure. Ultimately it didn’t bug that hard. THat movie has very little about it to bug. Which is why in the new milquetoast Academy voting it will win.

  • I’m not surprised the music branch of the Academy didn’t disqualify the score. They didn’t disqualify The King’s Speech’s score last year, and they’ve disqualified scores for much less. They have their favourites. The other scores just have to lump it.

  • Darwin

    I think what Ryan (and Kim Novak) is trying to say is that the Vertigo score is, from an iconic movie for one thing, and is therefore tied in its conception to that movie and scene used in that particular movie. This may not be true for the younger generation or those less familiar with Vertigo.

    Using a contemporary example- in what other movie can you borrow the score from, say, Indiana Jones or Star Wars and use it in a serious context for another (6 minute) scene on another film (whose whole script relies on score)? Volvo used it…in a commercial. With a Darth Vader. I didn’t see Jimmy Stewart in The Artist, though he would have been alive in that time period.

    You can probably cite other contemporary examples like Chariots of Fire where it has been borrowed numerous time- although I would like anyone to find an example where the borrowing occurred where the situation was not kitsch or humorous-because the score has become a sort of parody. And probably in all cases- the scene involves where someone is running or racing- because the score is iconic and tied to that movie’s imagery.

    Perhaps the argument that those, who don’t share Kim Novak’s view, can make is that Vertigo the movie and it’s score is not iconic enough to be tied to a particular movie. Not sure you can convince even Michael Hazanavicius of that.

  • I wonder how effective the film’s ending would have been with a different score.

    More effective. I have no doubt.

    If Hazanavicius hadn’t used it, nobody would be saying, “Hey, Where’s the Vertigo? This is the perfect spot for some Vertigo! Such a letdown, dude. Missed opportunity. Anticlimactic. I’m unhappy now about the lack of Vertigo.”

    There are literally infinite possibilities to how those 6 minutes could have been scored. It’s a really bad falter in the final stretch to throw something so unprecedented and jarring at the core audience who are most likely to notice it (which would be anybody, almost.)

    It’s an insult to the film’s composer. “Never mind. Don’t bother. Don’t even try. You can’t beat Herrmann. Give up, go home, take the rest of the day off. Go have a drink and dwell on how much you’ll never be as good as Bernardfuckin Herrmann.”

    The music does not even fit, not for me. A car careening down city streets does not scream out for a love theme, not to me.


    I don’t know any better way to illustrate it than all the brilliant parodies that have been done on youtube the past couple of days.

    Challenge: Take Vertigo’s Love Theme. Paste it onto any film at all. See how cool it is? Wow. Now do it again for another movie, ad infinitum. Impressive!

    It’s been done for years. So Hazanavicius has proven himself as clever as 10,000 youtubers who know how to work Garage Band. (I wish I could. Envious.)

    Yes, Tarantino used an extended piece of Morricone’s score to incredible breathtaking effect. That’s Tarantino; that’s Morricone.

    Dress Sally Field like Lady Gaga and see how that looks. Why not? Lady Gaga did it. Let’s all do it.

    It’s panache, folks. Not everybody can carry it off. Not everybody’s got a perfect sense of when and how to use it.

  • Clara

    Here’s my (humbly submitted) take:

    I thoroughly enjoyed The Artist. But, for me, the thing that holds it back from greatness is the fact that it’s caught in the “homage” trap. Like Far From Heaven, the film is so concerned with recreating a particular time/place in cinematic history that it sacrifices the originality, the unexpected, the je ne sais quoi, that makes my heart leap in my chest when I see a film that rates as “great.” Ironically, for me, it was the use of the anachronistic (and, of course, iconic) theme from Vertigo that provided a moment of dissonance (right at the otherwise predictable denouement) that made me say, Ahhh! Now, this is really something!
    (I feel I may be alone here, but I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in.)

  • I love the fact that there is such passion on this blog, but Ryan, you’ve been contradicting yourself all over this thread. You also have had to back track on what you said when proven wrong, and then use excuses to cover your mistakes and lack of clarity. It’s one thing to dislike what Hazanavicius did, but you maligned “The Artist” without accurate research or a thorough knowledge of what’s been done in a similar vein all over the history of film. For a reputable film blog like this, what you wrote originally and what you continue to write on this thread, makes you sound petty and woefully misinformed.

  • John W

    Fine then. I can see that Vertigo fans are going to insist on this no matter the counter argument. I will just say that I haven’t seen Vertigo, and I kept my ears open almost the entire time I was watching “The Artist”, just waiting for something to sound out of place. That is until the latter portion of the film, when I was far too invested in the drama to care – and, as such, I never noticed the difference. So for me, it was seamless and worked beautifully.

  • what you wrote originally and what you continue to write on this thread, makes you sound petty and woefully misinformed.

    Nobody has come up with a comparable example of lifting 4-6 minutes of a classic movie’s score and inserting it intact into another movie. Except for the Tarantino-Morricone example which I had completely forgotten about.

    That’s one other time. And on that occasion it worked for me, so it didn’t stick out like a sore thumb in my movie memory.

    Brief music cues do not bother me. I enjoy them. They tickle me. I’ve said that from the start.

    I’ve said that I thought Kim Novak must surely be overreacting. Until I sat through a 6-minute Bernard Herrmann concert to see what she was on about.

    I might be petty, Jeff. But I’m not misinformed.

  • without accurate research or a thorough knowledge of what’s been done in a similar vein all over the history of film. For a reputable film blog like this, what you wrote originally

    jeezus, Jeff York, now who’s petty?

    Here. Let me rephrase that original statement that bugs you so much.

    CORRECTION: In all my movie memory, I can think of No Other Time when a director has EVER lifted 6 minutes of another movie’s score and inserted it into his movie to leech off its effect. Never, except Once. Tarantino did it, and he did it right. Other than that, taking complete 6-minute chunks of one movie’s music and stuffing it into another film is not something we ever see. Not ever, forever, never, at all.

    Happier now?

    It’s not done because it’s a weird thing to do.

  • John W

    Ridley Scott also uses 2 and a half minutes of Jerry Goldsmith’s “The 13th Warrior” in Kingdom of Heaven. I’d appreciate it if you could modify your statement once again to reflect that as well please.

    …kidding. 😉

  • Ridley Scott also uses 2 and a half minutes of Jerry Goldsmith’s “The 13th Warrior” in Kingdom of Heaven.

    And that’s exactly why he’s never won an Oscar!


  • John W

    “And that’s exactly why he’s never won an Oscar!

    😉 ”

    Not cool, Ryan. Not cool. 😉

    Though I actually don’t like the use of that piece in KoH. Ironically, that’s actually counter productive to my argument about the Artist – lol. But I was able to notice right away that the piece didn’t belong since it sounds nothing like Harry Gregson William’s score for the film. Also, they’d posted a clip online with the original score intact, and I noticed right away that something different was being used.

    But Sir Ridley should have an Oscar by now, regardless. That’s a criminal offense.

  • Jimbo

    What’s everyone getting so stressed about? Don’t you all know that Bernard Herrmann nicked it off someone else in the first place? Okay so the notes are different, ish, but I defy any of you to listen to the Prelude and Liebstod from Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde and not hear the Vertigo score ringing right through it, especially this track, even though it was composed 97 years earlier.

    This, of course, was Herrmann’s intention. Tristan and Isolde is about a two lovers who only find solace through death. Without spoiling the story of Vertigo, there’s a vague connection.

    So if Herrmann was happy to borrow from others, you have to concede he’d be happy for others to borrow from him.

    So it goes, and the original still remains masterful and unharmed.

  • My issue with the Vertigo homage stems from laziness. It’s not a rape or a vehement disregard for honoring original scores. We re-use pop music all the time, so why would a film score be different? But Ryan’s right in that it’s a slap in the face at The Artist’s composer for an overtly long piece of music that doesn’t quite fit the scene regardless.

    Imagine you’re a hot shit director and you need a piece of music to play as dead bodies are revealed. You wouldn’t use “Layla’s” piano exit, would you? It’s already been used to brilliant effect in GoodFellas and homage or not, more creative options exist in great quantities. Using “Layla” again would not be offensive to the legacy of Clapton, but it would be half-assed and obvious. That’s how I feel about Hazenavicious’ choice.

  • Chris

    Up until that point I was pretty much onboard with The Artist, really enjoying it as a novelty film. But as someone quite familiar with the Vertigo score it did launch me right out of the movie and I kept waiting for that scene to end because it seemed such a senseless match of music with imagery. I really don’t understand it, not that I expect an explanation. Considering that the rest of the scoring around it felt so confidently done it really is a mystery, and I do think it is worth calling the filmmakers out on it.

  • Ben Z.

    Clearly filmmakers have the right and some the financial backing to sample and use other film scores. I think in the case of The Artist it’s just a poor use of said music. It goes hand and hand with the visual/story references to Citizen Kane, Singin’ in the Rain and A Star is Born.

    Why is a silent film working so hard at trying to create a fake sense of nostalgia for a period of filmmaking that never existed (all films referenced/homaged are from the sound era). The Artist is a tribute to old movies for people who don’t like old movies.

  • Ryan, now you defend your bias by saying that it’s never been done for six minutes? What about something like “Inglourious Basterds” as it that whole film is wall-to-wall sampling of existing music cues from movies. Heck, the “Cat People” track alone lasts for almost the entirety of that very long song. So tell us all, Ryan, what’s the cut-off time for sampling to please your ever-evolving scale of outrage? Two minutes? Three? Would you throw out “Goodfellas” as a best picture nominee because Scorsese uses almost two minutes of Eric Clapton’s Layla in it? The real truth is that you just don’t want “The Artist” to win best picture and are grasping at straws to try to knock it off its perch.

  • Jeff York

    I don’t have a bias.

    I don’t like hearing 6 minutes of Vertigo in The Artist. It’s weird. It’s distracting. It fucked up the end of the movie for me. I do not like it, and I’m not alone. Get used to it.

    This kind of thing is never done. If you think Layla is a fair comparison then you are wrong. That’s weak. Weak.

    Good god, Cat People! Cat People!

    Cat People was a standalone song. It was a track that existed on the radio and was played in 1000s of clubs OUTSIDE the movie. That’s a weak comparison. Weak.

    Try again.

    Ryan, what’s the cut-off time for sampling to please your ever-evolving scale of outrage?

    I don’t have a cut-off time. It stops pleasing me when it starts to annoy me. In The Artist that happened after about 45 seconds.

  • steve50

    This is a tempest in a teapot (or maybe in Kim Novack’s snifter). Perhaps the music from Vertigo wasn’t the best choice because of the memory associations to it. It didn’t really annoy me, but it did distract me, momentarily. Yes, he could easily have selected something else, or told Bource he wanted something with the same feel. but, of the current movie-going public (this group excluded), how many have even seen Vertigo or would even sit through it? The use of Pennies from Heaven bugged me more than this.

  • “of the current movie-going public , how many have even seen Vertigo or would even sit through it?”


    That’s another excellent point. All the people who have never seen Vertigo will probably assume the music was written for the film, right? They’ll believe any credit belongs directly to The Artist, not Vertigo.

    That’s even more screwed up: “Let’s stick 6 minutes of Vertigo in here. Hell, half the audience will never know the difference.”

    That’s not a better justification. It’s worse.

  • steve50

    Good point – I wonder how many Strauss aficionados shat themselves every time the monolith appeared in 2001? They’re all dead now, which could be part of the thinking, as well.

  • I think I’ve read that some critics were put off by The Blue Danube in space.

    Not sure how to make it any more clear about why it bothers me. This isn’t a “sampling” and it’s not a “music cue.”

    It’s a music video. It’s a youtube mash-up — no better than 200 other Vertigo mashups that have been uploaded today.

    I just don’t see how that’s Best Director caliber creativity, when 1000 kids can do the same thing on their laptops in less than an hour.

  • @Jeff York: You missed my point with the mention of “Layla.” I’m arguing that any pop song has the right to be part of a film but Scorsese used Layla so vividly that to replicate the experience would be lazy, just as having a group of characters sing along to “Tiny Dancer” would be ridiculous since it was done so perfectly in Almost Famous.

    If I ever directed a neo-noir, I’d love to use Tangerine Dream tracks, which don’t generally conjure up the same awareness as Vertigo’s “Love Theme”. But I’d be sure to avoid “Beach” from Thief because that’s the one piece they did which is so deeply tied to the film. If Hazavanicius wanted to grant an homage to Hitchcock, he should have played a single line of arpeggios from Vertigo or choose a piece not so well-known and more fitting to the scene. He didn’t, and it’s too bad.

  • steve50

    Yes – I clearly remember that gripe about the Blue Danube at the time. I thought it worked perfectly; others didn’t. Regardless, that piece of music got a new lease on life with an entirely different audience. A walk down the dorm hall would reek of grass and the sounds of the Blue Danube coming from at least three rooms.

    I agree, you can’t make the same comparison here. What first looked like a lazy choice has obviously become much more than that. I think the intent was homage (yet another anachronistic one in The Artist), but it’s now being perceived as a much bigger error. Too bad – a little more effort would have prevented it.

  • John W

    To say that music written on its own is okay to use, but to say the same is not true of music written for film is just silly. It’s all MUSIC.

    I think someone else mentioned opera music. That’s obviously meant to accompany a series of visuals. If opera music was used for 6 minutes in a film, would that be a problem?

    I honestly think it’s an insult to film composers to say that their music can’t have a life outside the film it was written for.

  • John W

    Forget other examples. There are times when extraneous music works for me and other times when it doesn’t.

    On the docket today: I don’t like hearing 6 minutes of Bernard Herrmann’s music In The Artist.

    I don’t like huge chunks of an iconic score from one movie being used in another movie.

    Do you know who else doesn’t like it? The music branch of the Academy. They disallow it all the time, every year. They make exceptions on a case by case basis, and so do I. But mostly they disqualify excessive sampling from consideration. Because they understand the situation better than you do.

    If Martin Scorsese himself uses Lara’s Theme from Dr. Zhivago in his next movie, it will sound wrong to me. I don’t even have to see it. I’ll tell you in advance: I’ll hate it.

  • John W

    Chill out. To be fair, you’re not the only holding this position, so it’s not like I’m personally going after you on this. I’m just trying to communicate why I feel the way I do about the subject. 🙂

  • I honestly think it’s an insult to film composers to say that their music can’t have a life outside the film it was written for.

    I think it’s an insult to film composers to take their past collaborations on classic films and strip their music of the original visuals that inspired it, so that any director who takes a fancy to any tune can buy it and paste it onto any unrelated footage he’s got.

    One size fits all. Dear Film Composer, You wrote it. You sold it. You’re dead now. We’re going to do whatever we want with your music.

    That’s the insult.

    If it wasn’t so gross it would happen more often.

    (I know, I know… go on and say it: “Cat People!!”)


  • John W

    Ryan, I apologize if it seems like I was trying to antagonize you. That really was not my intention. I have a deep passion for film music and classical music that sometimes stretches even beyond my love for film itself. So I’m of the school of thought that such music does indeed have life outside of the films that inspired the scoring.

    I recognize that others don’t share this view (yourself included), and I also appreciate that I may have let this passion of mine drive me to get a bit aggressive in this discussion. I did not mean anything by it.

  • John W, It’s ok, I like what you have to say!

    To be fair, I’m not even arguing with you. You’ve been really cool about this.

    It’s Jeff York who’s pestering me.


  • G

    To anyone who hasn’t seen vertigo, go rent it. It’s amazing and that music plays when Kim Novak comes through the blurry image and it is so unbelievable I almost fell off my chair. I am really disappointed they used it in the artist.

  • So I’m of the school of thought that such music does indeed have life outside of the films that inspired the scoring.

    I think so too. In concert halls and on my iPod.

    Just that it sometimes (*sometimes*) creeps me out to see a composer’s work grafted onto the wrong thing.

    I have an embarrassing amount of film scores. Movie scores are the soundtrack of my life.

    So I agree completely: Movie scores can live divorced outside the films for which they were written. I just don’t often care to see them remarried to new movies. (or forced into rapey situations)

    Takes a master like Tarantino or Kubrick to do it right.

    You should see Kubrick’s rough cut of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Dawn of Man sequence? Instead of Thus Spake Zarathustra, the music for the apes’ rumble was originally going to be The Prologue from West Side Story.

    See, though? that might have been a blunder…

  • John W

    Ha! 🙂 LOL

    Fair enough; as I said, I don’t always think such use works either. As I said earlier, I don’t like the use of Jerry Goldsmith’s music in Kingdom of Heaven, but a few other temp tracks that Scott used in the film work quite well in my opinion. It’s definitely a case by case basis thing.

    I’m sure that if I’d seen Vertigo before going to see The Artist I would probably feel differently about it’s use.

  • Movie Score Fun Fact! (inspired by Ryan’s cool bit about Kubrick and West Side Story)

    Kubrick wanted to begin A Clockwork Orange with a piece from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother. This happened in 1971, 2 years before Floyd exploded with Dark Side. Good British lads that they were, Pink Floyd denied Kubrick because they didn’t want to sell out*, but still, the first 10 minutes of Atom Heart would fit in beautifully. Check it out.

    *although having your music used in a Kubrick flick isn’t exactly like having it in a Pepsi commercial.

  • Tero Heikkinen
  • therealmike

    Brad Pitt was so damn good in “Se7en”.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    I don’t mind if directors want to use pre-existing film scores if it’s done well (I have not seen The Artist yet). I do have a problem with plagiarism. Like the theme for the 80’s popular TV-series V, sounds a bit too much like North by Northwest, eh?

    Take a look at these cool posters:

  • Pierre de Plume

    Maybe a better 2011 film music question is ‘why did Carey Mulligan sing NYNY
    for 37 minutes in Shame.

    To make a point. McQueen could’ve trimmed the final coda, but he apparently wanted to make a bigger point.

  • Samuel Perez

    Not only I agree with Ryan Adams on mostly everything he said, but I also think that the Vertigo’s “Scene d’amour” theme wasn’t even correctly used on The Artist. The music theme has a specific high moment (as many of the videos above can proove), but Hazanavicius didn’t even trouble to use that moment as the climax on the scene. If i remember correctly that moment is heard when she is still driving to his house. It should have been used when (SPOILER ALERT)

    she gets there and saves him.

    So, to sum up, not only i found weird and disturbing to hear one of the most relevant music themes in History being used in The Artist, i also think it was used pretty badly.

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