The sounds of movies are the sounds of memories. Scientists say smell is the sense most tied to memory. If that’s the case then sound is a close second for me. Sound stands out to me, and sticks with me. Ashley always laughs at me when I am annoyed by a poor sound system, and I am usually right when it comes which famous actor’s voice is in what commercial. Sounds can also bring up forgotten memories, especially movie sounds.
Today, I heard the theme song to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. At the first high call going back and forth between the two familiar notes I was suddenly in my parents’ basement with my dad watching Clint Eastwood portray the Man With No Name on a TV that would now belong in a museum. That sound. That high call we all recognize. Even if you have never watched the film you have heard that sound. It has been referenced in pop culture ever since. Ennio Morricone’s score became iconic with the spaghetti western.
Another sound that returns me to that same basement is the opening strains of the James Bond theme. Growing up, I would watch a James Bond movie any chance I could. Da da, dunnnn, da da, dunnnn, da da duh da da. I wouldn’t be shocked if those chords are somehow bonded with my core self. If you could look into my soul and see the sounds that rattle around my heart, these chords would be near my center.
Of course, for most boys of my age—at least the geeks—the sound of a lightsaber springing to life will always be attached to excitement and imagination. I would make that sound when turning on a flashlight, or day dreaming in class as my pens and pencils fought each other. To this day, when I can’t sleep, I find myself making that sound and imagining I am engaged in an epic duel.
At the very beginning of 2009’s Star Trek, there is music as it shows the Paramount, Spyglass, and Bad Robot graphics. Then the music stops as we glide along the exterior of the USS Kelvin. Then there is this echoing computer beep. It is a very Star Trek sound. Star Trek is all throughout my adolescence, from watching original TV episodes in that same basement to sitting in my first girlfriend’s front room watching TNG to being so excited to see The Undiscovered Country on opening day. The second I heard the echo-y, Star Trek-y sound I was home, and a smile hit my face that remained there for the entirety of the movie. My face hurt when it was over.
I don’t have to watch an entire movie to be transported to a different time. Sometimes all it takes is a snippet of sound from a movie to remind me of happy times when I was in Spanish deserts which stood in for Civil War battlefields, or on dangerous missions for her majesty’s secret service, or galaxies far, far away, or on a 5-year mission boldly going where no one has gone before.