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Shadow of the Colossus

I'm scared, you guys.

Up until now, movies based on video games haven't bothered me. Resident Evil? Who cares. Silent Hill? Meh. Tomb Raider? Whatevs. Those are series I don't really have a huge emotional attachment to, so I didn't fret when their big-screen counterparts turned out to be awful.

But Shadow of the Colossus? That's a game too dear to my heart — something I don't want inevitably ruined by the machine of Hollywood. No matter how much the director says he likes the game

So, Hollywood executives, if I could just pull you away from your cocaine for one moment, I have a single suggestion for your film: Use Koh Otani's original soundtrack.


Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is an interesting choice for a film in the first place. It has a cast of…well, five characters, if you count the horse. (Also, one of those characters is dead.) Every word of spoken dialogue in the game probably wouldn't cover a single Metal Gear Solid cut-scene. And aside from a handful of lizards and other critters, the 16 colossi are the only enemies.

That's why Shadow of the Colossus leans so heavily on the atmosphere it creates: the vast, empty landscape; the sun-drenched, bloom-lit environments; and most importantly, the soundtrack.

These things aren't just ambient window-dressing. They're what define the story.

Listen to that composition above. The instrumentation is noticeably sparse at first, and the grace notes provided by the flute perfectly represent your character as he entered the Forbidden Land. (And we know the land is forbidden even before we are told; the choir, with its unintelligible lyrics and mournful melody, communicates that.) 

By the time the strings kick in, soaring to climax around the 2:10 mark, we've moved beyond words. The music is speaking on a deeper level, telling and describing in a way that no actor could. 

The battle themes in Shadow of the Colossus are suitably heroic and epic, each befitting the mood and environment of the fight. But I'm more interested in the post-battle dirge that plays as each giant topples to the ground.

The tune isn't, as you'd expect, triumphant; the character (and by extension the player) should be celebrating his mastery over such behemoths. Instead, the music is lyrical and sad, almost funereal. And even as the string melody enters to resolve the minor key to a major one, a lingering note of doubt remains as a minor-second interval repeats (from 0:57 to the end). 

Even if you haven't played the game, you can pick up on what the music is communicating: sorrow, regret, accomplishment tinged with trepidation. And all without saying a word.

George Lucas once said (you know, pre-Jar Jar) that he considered Star Wars a silent movie, and that John Williams' music played a much larger role in the storytelling than it would in other films. Lucas, of course, forgot this truism and packed his later Star Wars films with needless dialogue. But that serves as a perfect object lesson for a potential Shadow of the Colossus movie.

Please, Hollywood. I'm begging you. Use this soundtrack. And then shut up and get out of the way.