The Musical Beauty of Her


The Academy Award-winning film Her deals with the complications of love and relationships in a digital world as seen through the romantic interactions of a man and his computer operating system.  Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson depict these star-crossed lovers, connecting exclusively through auditory exchange.  The quirky yet poignant scenario is fueled by an impressive score and soundtrack which feature prominently in eliciting viewer empathy and understanding.   Music is one of the greatest indications of emotion in the film. Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and collaborator Owen Pallett produced a score that is uniquely tailored to the odd and almost fantastical film subject.  The smooth, orchestral sound marks the pace of the slow progression of love between Phoenix’s male character, Theodore Twombly, and Johansson’s operating system identity, Samantha.  The sound is rich yet makes use of basic piano and guitar arrangements with electronic elements that call to mind the film’s futuristic setting and technological focus.  The score seems to be accompaniment for a dream sequence, truly the background noise for slowly falling in love.  The highs and lows of the unconventional relationship are felt through these unique melodic sounds.  Butler and Pallett were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score, however, the duo did not win.


The soundtrack for Her is extremely well-selected and captures the essence of the film and the delicate nature of love, complimenting the score.  With tracks like “The Moon Song” by Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, an Academy Award Nominee for Best Original Song, the alternative style of the film is maintained.  This song is central to the film’s onscreen relationship with Samantha singing as Theodore accompanies her on ukulele.  It is one of the most powerful scenes as music acts as a tangible way for their love to transcend their obvious differences.  Karen O performed the song live at the Academy Awards with Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig on guitar.  This echoed the live performance in Her and the vulnerable acoustic quality supported the raw emotion of the film.


While “The Moon Song” did not win the Academy Award,  a three-track compilation of the film version, Karen O’s original recording, and the Karen O and Ezra Koenig duet has been released.  The Her soundtrack is yet to be released in full but is expected soon including the following tracks:

"Off You" The Breeders "When You Know You're Gonna Die" Arcade Fire "Cleopatra in New York (Zim Zam Mix)" Nickodemus "Alien Child" Will Collins "Super Symmetry" Arcade Fire "Magnesium" N.A.S.A. "I'm So Glad" Entrance "The Moon Song" Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix "Racing Turtles" Barrie Gledden, Tim Reilly and Jason Pedder "8 Bit Disco No. 3" Philip Guyler "Need Your Love So Bad" Little Willie John "Sure of Love" The Chantels "Dimensions" Arcade Fire "The Moon Song" Karen O.