Musical Cues in Film Aren’t Necessary

Music is a very important and evident aspect of film.

Musical cues in films help the audience to feel a certain way, whether it is happy or sad with sappy violins or pianos, alerts of upcoming danger with sharp and eerie notes, or signals the end of a film by playing upbeat Top 40 songs.

I just finished watching Jurassic Park, and the musical cues in this film are very evident. The main theme for the film plays throughout the film and becomes very familiar and very comforting. The composer for the film created wonderful scores; most that made me feel for the characters, but more importantly, the dinosaurs.

The music within the film is definitely one of a kind and still to this day, is easily recognized, much among the ranks of the music from Jaws.

However, here is a question for everyone reading, have you ever seen a film that had absolutely no soundtrack or musical cues?

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I had never really thought about musical cues before because I had become so accustomed to them, and they literally just melted into and became part of the films I watched.

Two years ago, I watched the film, Caché (Hidden) staring Juliette Binoche, a story about a family who receives strange videotapes of someone filming the outside of their house, and later, receive clues to the husband’s mysterious past and childhood.

To be quite honest, the film was so intense, and I was so engrossed with the plot and the characters, that I didn’t even notice that there was no soundtrack or any musical cues. Not a single note, even for the opening or closing credits.

When I watched the film again, I took note of the missing music, and it became much more eerie and haunting. It was far more terrifying than a film that includes music to tell its viewers how to think or react.

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Soundtracks and musical cues have become a staple in blockbuster films; there is no doubt about that. Trusty and reliable pop culture songs and artists litter the film almost to the point of distraction, and after watching Caché, there is definitely something that about the lack of music that adds so much more to a film.

I can honestly say that I have never been so attentive, and terrified at the same time while watching any film, horror movie, thriller or other wise.

For all those reading, I would highly recommend renting Caché. It is a great film with some great twists and is composed of an extremely mysterious plot. And to think that all of this is heightened with the absence of music.



  1. You make a good point. Musical cues are usually unnecessary but often help things along, especially in terms of setting the mood. (Imagine what The Shining would be like if it had whimsical, farcical music!) I feel even more strongly about voiceovers and narration—film is a visual medium, so if you have to tell the audience something instead of showing them, chances are there’s something wrong with your story.

    If you watch No Country For Old Men, you’ll find that there is very little music. And that helps build its atmosphere of suspense and dread.

  2. I’ll definitely have to check out Cache’.


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