Song of the Day #461: ‘Lucha de Gigantes’ – Nacha Pop

amoresperrosAlejandro Gonzalez Iñarrítu isn’t really known for the use of music in his films. He’s a modern filmmaker, certainly, but not a modern pop filmmaker in the way Quentin Tarantino or Wes Anderson are. He’s far more meat and potatoes, even as he explores boundary-pushing narrative techniques.

I read an interview where he was asked how much of a debt his debut film, Amores Perros, owed to Pulp Fiction (both films follow three storylines out of sequence) and Iñarrítu said that, though he’s a fan of Tarantino, he never made the connection… he was too busy trying to steal from William Faulkner.

Most of the music in Amores Perros is scored by composer/guitarist Gustavo Santaolalla. Santaolalla bathes the film in atmosphere — an acoustic guitarist strumming at the dawn of the apocalypse. It’s the same vibe he brought to his Academy Award-winning score of Brokeback Mountain.

But Iñarrítu does find room for a few songs, including a hard rap number by Control Machete and today’s SOTD, ‘Lucha de Gigantes’ by Nacha Pop. This song plays over a sequence juxtaposing two pivotal scenes in the film. In one, a man is jumped and beaten in an alley and the other features a secret tryst between two lovers. The men in these scenes are brothers and the woman is married to one of them (but not the one she’s making love to).

In the audio commentary of the film, Iñarrítu admits that he views the use of the song over this sequence as a bit of a cop-out. It’s effective but the way he sees it he’s using a crutch. Though I understand his point to a degree, I don’t share it… not even close. Music in a film is always manipulative — in fact, everything in a film is manipulative. But if it’s done right, it’s the kind of manipulation I welcome.

Lucha de gigantes convierte,
el aire en gas natural
un duelo salvaje advierte,
lo cerca que ando de entrar
En un mundo descomunal
siento mi fragilidad.

Vaya pesadilla corriendo,
con una bestia detras
dime que es mentira todo,
un sueno tonto y no mas
Me da miedo la enormidad
donde nadie oye mi voz.

Deja de enganar
no quieras ocultar
que has pasado sin tropezar
monstruo de papel
no se contra quien voy
o es que acaso hay alguien mas aqui?

Creo en los fantasmas terribles
de algun extrano lugar
y en mis tonterias
para hacer tu risa estallar

En un mundo descomunal
siento tu fragilidad.

Deja de enganar
no quieras ocultar
que has pasado sin tropezar
monstruo de papel
no se contra quien voy
o es que acaso hay alguien mas aqui?

Deja que pasemos sin miedo.

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #461: ‘Lucha de Gigantes’ – Nacha Pop

  1. Dana says:

    It is always such a delicate balance in film to have music that subtly manipulates you rhater than so overtly manipulating you that you are consciously aware of, and therefore perhaps bothered by, the manipulation. I’m not sure if the scene at issue with this SOTD crosses that line or not, but perhaps the director is suggesting it does?

    Generally, I find songs with lyrics that too closely match the scene or emotion being conveyed in the scene cross the line into heavy handed manipulation. Here, I suspect that having Spanish lyrics might actually help the non-Spanish speaking viewer to be less conscious of the manipulation. Perhaps a native Spanish speaker would find the song more overtly manipulative? I don’t know. I guess I would need a translation of the song to make that call.

  2. Clay says:

    I agree that obvious lyrics can be distracting or heavy-handed. That’s one of my issues with the music in Forrest Gump. On the other hand, sometimes a song that is too obviously contrasting the action can be over-the-top, too. So it’s a delicate balance.

    Also agree that the Spanish-language issue makes it a moot point for non-Spanish speakers. Kind of like the Mandarin Chinese accents in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

  3. Amy says:

    I can’t recall many instances of music in film that I haven’t liked. In a good film, that is. Music blatantly stuck into a mediocre film by a mediocre filmmaker, with the intention of selling soundtracks, annoys me from start to finish.

    However, a director thoughtfully using music to bring out the emotion in a scene is one of my favorite things about the movies. I’m a particular fan of the “obvious contrast” in films like Face/Off and Miller’s Crossing. I’d like to hear this song in the context of the film, as it’s not doing much for me without the accompanying storyline.(that beeatch!!!)

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