Sparrow Film Analysis

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Film Soundtrack Review: Sparrow (2008)
Sparrow is a Hong Kong film that was released in June 2008. It is directed by Johnnie To and scored by Xavier Jamaux. To is known for his stark Hong Kong thrillers, however, Sparrow, which took three years to produce, reflects a more light-hearted image than his preceding films. The story follows a gang of pickpockets, leader Kei (Simon Yam) and his colleagues Bo, Sak and Mac played by Gordon Lam, Wing-Cheong Law and Kenneth Chung respectively. The group dominates the streets of Hong Kong, precisely executing their actions thanks to their expertise in the craft. Instead of being portrayed as dirty thieves, the characters radiate charisma, their confidence and witty behavior undoubtedly attracts audience’s
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This song makes use of an Erhu, Guzheng; an unidentified drum; possibly a guitar, ‘scat singing’ and whistling. This further conveys the film’s nostalgic theme and the idea of Hong Kong’s past immersed with Western culture.

Another important aspect of having the soundtrack incorporate Eastern and Western culture, is shaping the time period or rather, how the overall social perspective within Hong Kong is changing over time. The music emphasises the actual movement in temporal meaning. It is obvious things are changing in Hong Kong; “I’d like to convey that things will gradually disappear,” (To, 2008). Thus, having a traditional Asian instrument flowing into music with a western style mimics the influence of time on societal attitudes.

Power of Music in Contributing to Overall Understanding of the Narrative
When Sparrow was released, its major criticism was for its thin plot narrative. This could be explained by the lack of dialogue within most scenes and because of this, there are not a lot of opportunities to explore the relationship between music and dialogue. However, because of this partial absence, the cinematic music became one of the primary tools responsible in narrating the
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The atmosphere the music creates within both of these scenes exemplifies the nostalgic and playful theme, which perpetuates throughout the film. This was intended by To, as he sates, “I wanted to make Sparrow to capture the nostalgic mood of the old Hong Kong…Musically I wanted a retro sound that would remind people of the way Hong Kong was.” Thus, it is definite that instead of establishing theme through narration or dialogue, music can also play this

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