The Role of Music in Novel to Film Adaptations

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Music plays an important role in every film, but especially novel to film adaptations. Film Composers must take extra care in scoring these movies because the music fills in the gaps and gives us more insight into the plot. In film adaptations, music is often used to fill us in on what we may have missed from reading the novel. Music adds overall cohesion in these films that would otherwise seem like they were missing something. The music can be used as an insight into characters thoughts, emotions, feelings and even their personality. The music in The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons does just that and also plays the role of another character, the narrator. Hans Zimmer composed the scores to both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Both these films are based on the novels with the same titles by author Dan Brown. Angels and Demons was released by Dan Brown in 2000. This was not a success until he released The Da Vinci Code in 2003. This novel immediately became a New York Times’ bestseller and has sold over 80 million copies. Both novels feature the same main character, Robert Langdon. The film adaptations, both directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, were released in opposite order, The Da Vinci Code being released in 2006 and Angels and Demons released in 2009.

Dan Brown was born in 1964 in New Hampshire. His family was both musical and spiritual. His interest in puzzles and mysteries comes from his family. They would spend hours working on puzzles and going on elaborate treasure hunts. Brown graduated from Amherst College and spent a year studying in Seville, Spain. His first career was as a singer/songwriter. He produced two albums that each only sold over one-hundred copies. His first book, Digital Fortress, had very little success. It wasn’t until The Da Vinci Code that Dan Brown became an international success. All of his books are thriller fictions that take place during a 24-hour period and take the reader on a miraculous treasure hunt. Hans Zimmer was born in 1957 in Germany. He has composed the music for over one-hundred Hollywood films. He is the head of film music at DreamWorks. His composition style usually blends traditional orchestral sounds with electronic music. In his films, he usually spends time studying the sounds of the film before he begins composing or goes to great lengths to create an authentic score. For The Last Samurai, Zimmer spent much time researching Japanese music before he composed the score. He traveled to Africa to use authentic drums and choirs for the film The Power of One. Some of his most notable film scores are, Gladiator, Pearl Harbor, Hannibal, Madagascar, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Frost/Nixon and Sherlock Holmes. He has received numerous awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award in film Composition from the National Board of Review.

Angels and Demons follows Robert Langdon through the Vatican City and Rome as he tries to stop the Illuminati from destroying the Vatican City and the Catholic Church. A scientist is found murdered with the ambigram “Illuminati” branded on his chest. The director of this facility contacts Langdon’s assistance in solving the murder. Langdon finds this symbol to be a sign that this group, the illuminati, have resurfaced. The murdered scientist’s daughter, Vittoria soon arrives and finds that her canister of antimatter has been stolen. This small canister is extremely dangerous and has the potential to blow up a small town. The canister of antimatter only has a short battery life and they figure they only have twenty-four hours until it deploys on its own. The Illuminati have left the canister of antimatter hidden in Vatican City with a camera that shows the countdown until the explosion. Both Langdon and Vittoria rush to Vatican City where the cardinals are about to enter papal conclave to vote for a new Pope. They discover that the four Preferiti are all...
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