The best film soundtracks: Our top picks

We choose the films we would love to see with a live soundtrack accompaniment

The best film soundtracks: Our top picks

Our March issue explores the newest fad hitting concert halls across the UK; that of screening films with a live orchestral accompaniment. This has got the BBC Music Magazine reflecting on some of our favourite film soundtracks. 


Oliver Condy, Editor
The English Patient

Gabriel Yared’s score to Anthony Minghella’s 1996 epic brilliantly combines the influences of JS Bach and Middle Eastern music to magnificent effect. At its heart, Yared places a stunning piece of faux Bach, a stirring yet texturally simple three-part piano solo that utterly defines the tenor of the film.


Jeremy Pound, Deputy editor
Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence

How many film composers can boast that they have both written the soundtrack for a film and also played one of the major roles on screen? Such is the case with Ryuichi Sakamoto, whose portrayal of the complex character of Captain Yonoi in Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence is accompanied by his own music. That score – a masterpiece of early electronic music – blends classical and oriental influences as it brilliantly conveys the stifling heat and oppression of the prisoner-of-war camp in which the likes of Major Jack Celliers (David Bowie) and Lieutenant Colonel John Lawrence (Tom Conti) are held. Crowned by the gorgeous ‘Forbidden Colours’ theme tune, it deservedly won Sakamoto a BAFTA.



Neil McKim, Production editor
Back to the Future (1985)

When this film came out I enjoyed it so much I went to see it twice. It’s a movie where the music weaves in perfectly with the story line, as it switches between the 1980s and the 1950s. The grandiose score by Alan Silvestri – which he describes as an ‘overblown fantasy, an old-fashioned movie score’ – was composed for 98 musicians, one of the largest orchestras in the history of Universal Pictures. It captures the excitement of the time-traveling adventure while the mix of contemporary pop hits contrasts well with the rock ‘n’ roll music of the earlier era.



Freya Parr, Editorial assistant

This film is a sensory overload for foodies and music lovers alike. It follows the story of a hotshot head chef disenchanted with his life cooking food dictated by restaurant owners. He gives it all up to take a food truck serving Cuban sandwiches across America with his son. The music is influenced by their travels – a mix of Latin, salsa, New Orleans R &B and Texas blues. It’s rich and dynamic and I can’t get enough of it. Warning: Do not watch on an empty stomach. 



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