Martin Scorsese’s fast-paced gangster epic Freedmen has one of the most iconic movie soundtracks of all time. By for the Scorsese filmography course, Freedmen contains dozens of classic needles from the director’s record collection. The soundtrack includes hits from legendary artists such as Cream, Tony Bennett and Aretha Franklin. The climactic sequence sees mobster Henry Hill driving frantically through the city as he simultaneously orchestrates a family dinner, a drug delivery, and a weapons black market, all the while paranoid that he is being followed by federal agents in a helicopter.
Throughout this sequence, the soundtrack abruptly changes from song to song to reflect Henry’s frazzled, cocaine-fueled state of mind. After his arrest, there is no music until the end credits, so the ever-changing musical accompaniment to the helicopter sequence is the highlight of the entire soundtrack. From Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” to George Harrison’s “What is Life,” this sequence’s choppy soundtrack is packed with endearing songs.
6 “Jump into the Fire” by Harry Nilsson
The iconic helicopter montage kicks off with Herbie Flowers’ opening bass strings from Harry Nilsson’s rock ‘n’ roll classic “Jump Into the Fire.” The thrilling pace and fast pace of Nilsson’s kick instantly establishes the intensity of the streak to follow. Flowers’ bass riff draws the audience to the edge of their seat at the paranoid imagery that is about to unfold.
Ultimately, “Jump Into the Fire” is the musical glue that holds this whole sequence together. Its familiar musical patterns recur on the soundtrack a few times throughout the edit: when Henry tries to deliver the guns to Jimmy’s house, when he brings his brother home from the hospital, when he sits down to dinner with the family, and just before he is arrested.
5 “Turner’s Memo” by Mick Jagger
Part of Henry’s hectic day involves bringing guns to Jimmy’s to sell to him. But Jimmy is disappointed to learn that the silencers Henry bought aren’t suitable for guns, so they’re no good. Jimmy calls off the deal and implores Henry to stop doing drugs, setting the stage for the rest of the sequence (essentially a series of events cosmically telling Henry the same thing).
This moment is accompanied by “Memo from Turner”, a solo single by Mick Jagger with slide guitar by Ry Cooder. This song is from the soundtrack of a movie Jagger starred in called Performance.
4 “Magic Bus (Live)” by The Who
Scorsese borrowed The Who’s rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece “Magic Bus” for the helicopter sequence in Freedmen. Instead of using studio recording, he allowed the looser, rougher live version of the band’s very first live album, Living in Leeds.
Most Notable Freedmen The moment highlighted by the live version of “Magic Bus” is when an inebriated Henry drives down a freeway and nearly falls into a horrific crash (ultimately avoiding it by about an inch). Analyzed frame by frame, the editing of this moment is flawless, using quick cuts, tight framing and disorienting close-ups to capture both the terror of an impending car crash and the fractured reality of a worldview. with coke.
3 “Monkey Man” by The Rolling Stones
Scorsese is one of the Rolling Stones’ most notable film fans. Like Wes Anderson, he often allows Stones hit tracks to appear on his film soundtracks. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” can be heard in average streets“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” can be heard in Casinoand “Gimme Shelter” can be heard in a bunch of Scorsese films (including Freedmen).
Following frontman Mick Jagger’s solo hit ‘Memo from Turner’, the Stones classic ‘Monkey Man’ also makes an appearance during Freedmen‘ helicopter sequence. This is actually the second time “Monkey Man” has appeared in the film. He first appears when Henry mixes cocaine in Sandy’s apartment, and he reappears when Henry and Karen hide the faulty guns at Karen’s mother’s house while being chased by the helicopter.
2 “What is Life” by George Harrison
Although the Rolling Stones are the band Scorsese is most often linked to (he even co-produced an HBO series with Jagger), he’s also a Beatles fan – like just about everyone on the planet – and has licensed the George Harrison’s solo hit “What is Life” for Freedmen‘helicopter assembly. “What’s Life” plays to a bunch of tense moments: Henry gets the guns back, cuts his cocaine hookup, and gets an urgent call from Sandy.
There’s also a hilarious juxtaposition of Henry calling Lois to implore her not to make calls about the criminal enterprise from inside the house, immediately followed by Lois making a call about the criminal enterprise from inside the house. The psychedelic, existential and uplifting sounds of Harrison’s hit pair perfectly with all that frenetic on-screen action.
1 “Mannish Boy” door Muddy Waters
The ever-changing soundtrack of the helicopter montage returns to its catchy theme song, “Jump Into the Fire,” just before Henry is pulled over in his driveway. But before that, Muddy Waters’ iconic blues standard “Mannish Boy” captures the final dregs of Henry’s high.
It starts when he goes to Sandy’s house for the last time to cut the cocaine. It covers the dinner scene before “Jump Into the Fire” returns to the soundtrack.
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