One of the things that interests me most about cinema is the use of music to enhance the atmosphere or energy of certain scenes. Of course some films work fine without musical backing – like The Magician, a favourite of mine also based and produced in Australia – but I felt Tomorrow, When The War Began should’ve had a diverse and epic soundtrack, powerfully reminiscent of the book’s period, setting and youthful spirit. A few memorable ‘music sequences’ is something that could’ve made the movie a much more stirring and evocative experience, even with all of the acting and directing flaws intact, and its absence is one of the reasons it fell flat for me. Of course the film did feature some music but with the absence of Homer’s ‘theme song’ (when he’s first presented in that over-the-top cop shop skit), it was either very generic rock – an obvious attempt to inject some ‘teen cool’ into the movie – or a repetitive synthetic beat, designed to build suspense, which would’ve been perfect for a techno thriller like Inception but sounded too industrial against footage of rural Australian houses, making me far too conscious of it.
Of course it’s one thing to merely criticize and another to put forward solutions, so here’s the soundtrack for TWTBT as I imagine it. I’d suggest just listening to rather than watching the links provided, so that you can appreciate the music on its own terms and picture it in the intended context.
Opening credits – Smashing Pumpkins – 1979
Singing along in the 4WD on the way to Hell – Bloc Party – One Month Off
Hiking through Australian landscape into Hell – Icehouse – Great Southern Land
Discovering the clearing in Hell – Dan Gibson – Kookaburra
Wirrawee Showgrounds/preparations for Show Day – Connie Francis – Everybody Somebody’s Fool
Discovery of Wirrawee’s fate – Synaesthesia – Surface System
Occupied Wirrawee by night/approaching the Showgrounds – Aphex Twin – Spots
Romantic rapport with Lee – Sophie B. Hawkins – As I Lay Me Down
Preparing to blow up the bridge – Aes Dana – Onset Data
Return to Hell + credits – Enigma – Return To Innocence