Sunday, April 24, 2011

Defeated by Song

Updated 4/25, 3:15pm, you guys are so smart! I've updated this post with all the great suggestions in the comments.

Movies where the villain is defeated by singing and/or clapping:

  • Ghostbusters II (Crowd sings Auld Lang Syne)
  • Peter Pan (Everyone in the world chants "I do believe in fairies, I do, I do. And clapping. Lots of clapping.)
I'm sure there was an animated movie or two where singing was a critical component of the final beatdown, but let's not count those.

I tried Googling "defeated by clapping." No luck.

Can you think of any? This is important work we're doing.

Updated to include movies from the comments:

  • Elf (Santa's sleigh flies away from the Central Park rangers because the crowd sings Santa Claus Is Coming to Town) -- Thanks, Dan!
  • Mars Attacks (music makes the martians heads explode) -- Thanks, Becky Book!
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (there is a big musical battle, where Scott's band are playing against another band, and their music becomes two beasts that duel for supremacy.) -- Thanks, Headspace!
  • Zulu (There, when the Zulu forces advance, doing their battle-chant for the final assualt, the tiny British contingent defending against them start singing in defiance, thanks to some of them being in a Welsh choir!) -- Thanks, Headspace!
  • Blues Brothers (The money they earn from their final performance saves their orphanage from going bust!) -- Thanks, Headspace!
  • Amadeus (Salieri is constantly being defeated by the brilliance of Mozart's music, especially in that scene where Mozart improves Salieri's welcome march!) -- Thanks, Headspace! (Christy's Note: One of my favorite movies!
  • Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (The band sings the best song in the world, to defeat the evil demon!) -- Thanks, Headspace!

Updated to include movies that are also billed as musicals, where song is key to the climactic scene:

  • Moulin Rouge (It is full of dancing and singing and I know there is a big musical number at the end where the bad guy is basically defeated.) -- Thanks, Green Dragon!
  • The Sound of Music (The Von Trapps sing Eidelweiss in front of the Nazi leaders at the end, and all the audience behind them join in!) -- Thanks, Headspace!
  • Cabaret (The songs the MC sings that subtly mock the Nazis. Pretty tenuous though...) -- Thanks, Headspace!

Updated to include movies that are not strictly dance movies, but where dance is a key component in saving the day:

  • Footloose
  • Dirty Dancing
  • West Side Story (Not a music/singing one, but as their fights are choreographed, could count as one where dancing defeated the bad guy!) -- Thanks, Headspace!

14 comments:

Dan said...

Elf (Santa's sleigh flies away from the Central Park rangers because the crowd sings Santa Claus Is Coming to Town). Does that count? No villain is really defeated.

Becky Book said...

music makes the martians heads explode in Mars Attacks

Christy said...

Dan, that's good enough for me. I bet there are other comedies too that will come to us later.

Becky, I did not remember that. It's been so long since I've seen that movie. Excellent.

Headspace said...

Hmm, this is harder than it seems!

In 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World', there is a big musical battle, where Scott's band are playing against another band, and their music becomes two beasts that duel for supremacy. Scott and his band win, so that surely has to count!

Can't think of another...unless you count 'Zulu'? There, when the Zulu forces advance, doing their battle-chant for the final assualt, the tiny British contingent defending against them start singing in defiance, thanks to some of them being in a Welsh choir! It's not the singing per se that defeats the enemy, but its still a great military sing-off, and a great scene!

You realise I hope that I'm going to be thinking about this all day...

Christy said...

Oh very good, Headspace. :)

Scott Pilgrim, definitely. Zulu should count as well. If people get picky we could always include a rating of how much the singing/clapping/dancing had to do with the defeating part.

Speaking of... I wonder if a dance off has ever won the day outside of a dance movie? Dirty Dancing and Footloose come to mind immediately. Hm.

GreenDragon said...

The first movie that comes to my mind is Moulin Rouge. It is full of dancing and singing and I know there is a big musical number at the end where the bad guy is basically defeated.

Headspace said...

Ooh, that makes me think of 'The Sound of Music', when the Von Trapps sing Eidelweiss in front of the Nazi leaders at the end, and all the audience behind them join in!

Headspace said...

And actually, THAT makes me think of 'Cabaret', and the songs the MC sings that subtly mock the Nazis. Pretty tenuous though...

OK, I've just gone through my DVDs, and here are the others I can think of (though some of them are VERY dubious, so ignore as you see fit!)

- The Blues Brothers: The money they earn from their final performance saves their orphanage from going bust!

- Amadeus: Salieri is constantly being defeated by the brilliance of Mozart's music, especially in that scene where Mozart improves Salieri's welcome march!

- West Side Story: not a music/singing one, but as their fights are choreographed, could count as one where dancing defeated the bad guy!

- Pirates of the Caribbean 3: OK, this one is weak, but right at the beginning when all the citizens start singing the pirate song at the gallows in defiance of those pesky Brits (to be fair, we do make good villains...)


AND OF COURSE! How could I forget the Tenacious D movie, 'Pick of Destiny', where the band sings the best song in the world, to defeat the evil demon!

Phew!

Christy said...

Headspace, you are too funny. We are now well on our way to building the most comprehensive list available on the internet.

GreenDragon, I think musicals should have their own category because you expect singing/dancing to be involved in the climactic scene -- not that they shouldn't count -- but it's a can of worms when you start including Les Miserables and Chess and Evita... Moulin Rouge is a lot of fun though. Remind me to tell you about that time I went to see it in a theatre and I was on NyQuil and I came back from the bathroom and sat next to the wrong person without noticing. Awkward. (Nevermind, I guess I just told you.)

Your responses are all fascinating to me!

GreenDragon said...

Hmmmm, while I agree that musicals should be put in their own category, that almost makes me wonder at the definition of what is a musical and what isn't.

For example, in the Blues Brothers music is a huge part of the movie and the main characters even sing. Could it not be considered a musical? And even though the protagonist don't sing in Scott Pilgrim, it is a very musical movie itself.

Though I may be over thinking it. ;-)

Christy said...

Yeah, GreenDragon, I thought that would come up.

Let me explain my reasoning.

Although it could easily go either way, comedy/drama versus musical, what drove my decision in categorizing was based on two factors: first, where would I expect to find the movie in a video store? Second, if the plot was driven forward primarily by its characters bursting into song, then I counted it as a musical for the purposes of this scientific study.

Blues Brothers is on the edge, because music is a huge part of the experience, however most people think of it as a comedy because it stars two very funny dudes who originated their roles on SNL. The music is important to the plot, but I don't believe the plot advances based on the lyrics, dancing, or singing. It's been a long time since I've seen it though, and I could be remembering wrong.

Moulin Rouge was part of Baz Luhrmann's Red Curtain Trilogy which also included Romeo and Juliet and Strictly Ballroom. Music was extremely important in Moulin Rouge for moving the plot forward -- and part of its allure was repurposing popular songs to create a musical experience. I agree that this one is right on the edge. I made a judgment call based on the factors I described above.

As for Scott Pilgrim, I didn't think it revolved around the singing/dancing, so I didn't count it as a musical. I felt it was more about Scott proving his worth.

Ultimately what I was hoping to create was a list where music/jubilance/joy is used to resolve, or help resolve, a major plot conflict in a *surprising* way. I wanted to keep it pretty open though -- not throw on any limitations -- to see what everybody came up with. And it's a pretty cool list so far!

In the end, I thought it would be fairer if musicals were given their own section, since you sort of expect music to save the day in a musical.

Christy said...

By the way GreenDragon, I have absolutely no idea what you meant by "overthinking" it. :)

Dan said...

This is an awesome list! Now...check this out: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThePowerOfRock Examples by genre are at the end. Also, search that site for "Clap your hands if you believe".

Christy said...

How funny, Dan! My search originally started at tvtropes.org but I didn't find the page you just posted. My search included the word "villain" and kept getting stuck on their villain decay page: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VillainDecay

Going through this list though, I'm proud to say we've come up with a few they don't have yet. Go us!