• Loren Javier

My FIVE Favorite Michael Giacchino Pixar Score Pieces


Photo: Pixar

This weekend, The Incredibles 2 broke box office records by becoming the highest grossing weekend for an animated movie with $180 million! That record had previously been held by another Pixar sequel Finding Dory with its opening box office of $140 million. I watched it again over the weekend and still love it. I think a big part of the success behind The Incredibles 2, really The Incredibles franchise in general, is the score by Michael Giacchino. On both viewings, the crowds cheered as soon as the familiar theme song played. Its one of my favorite Michael Giacchino scores with its retro/pastiche tones that cradle the Mid-Century Modern environment of this wonderful world of supers.


Anyway, this got me to thinking about all the wonderful Pixar scores Michael Giacchino has composed over the years. So, I offer my FIVE favorite score pieces of his in Pixar films. I know he's written other Disney related scores, including for Marvel and Lucasfilm. But, he is pretty much a fixture of Pixar, so I decided to just stick with Pixar for now...



5. "Wall Rat" from Ratatouille

This is from the scene after Remy and his family are chased from the cottage they were originally stealing food from. He ends up in a wall in an apartment complex and the playful flute music really conveys well the scampering throughout the walls as Remy tries to find his way out. At the same time, it conveys his sense of wonder and fear in the various scenes he sees. The score piece ends with Remy ending on top of the apartment with the fabulous view of Paris. It feels like the kind of music you'd hear in your head if you saw the same thing from a wonderful vantage point.



4. "Crossing the Marigold Bridge" from Coco

I love this score piece. I find the concept of a Marigold Bridge that links the world of the living and the dead to be a beautiful one. And, the music as Miguel first crosses the Marigold Bridge with his family coveys, at first, his hesitancy and then his amazement at seeing the Land of the Dead from bridge. I love the use of instruments common in Mexican music such as the xylophone, trumpets and, of course, the guitar which is a cornerstone of the movie.



3. "Joy Turns To Sadness/A Growing Personality" from Inside Out

This score piece comes from my absolutely favorite part of the movie where I am reduced to tears every time. The piece starts off with this triumphant music as Joy returns Sadness to Headquarters. Then, the music becomes more somber as Joy turns to Sadness to help Riley. The music becomes more and more simple as Sadness turns Riley's core memories to help her cope. And, as it becomes even slower and more simple as Riley breaks down, there is a slight uplift before Riley takes her breathe where I start weeping hysterically. As Sadness asks Joy to join her at the console, the music becomes more hopeful as we see combined emotional core memories and more Islands of Personality develop. The piece ends on a much more joyous note as Riley adjusts to her new life with all her emotions working in tandem. Okay, I'll stop crying now.



2. "The Incredits" from The Incredibles

As I mentioned before, Michael Giacchino's 1960s style superhero music of The Incredibles is so iconic. I know that some people think it derivative of John Berry's scores for James Bond, but I prefer to think of it as an homage that makes its own mark. Giacchino managed to capture the spirit without copying it and that's no small feat in my humble opinion. There are so many score pieces from both movies that I love, but I chose this one because I think its the most exemplary of the two scores It contains most of the score themes within this piece. My favorite part of the score, though, is this playful battle between the brass section and the woodwind section. Such a fun score piece.



1. "Married Life" Suite from Up

This is, perhaps, Michael Giacchino's most iconic piece of work. When you listen to the first few notes of this score piece, it already brings up a certain level of emotion. This piece, of course, is the four minute piece that conveys the life of Carl and Ellie from their becoming engaged to Ellie's death. The score piece starts out with a joyous tone as Carl and Ellie get married and start their early years togeher. But, the score becomes sorrowful when we find that Ellie cannot have children and then immediately starts up again with a tone conveying overcoming tragedy. The piece then becomes sorrowful again as we see Ellie become sick and eventually pass leaving Carl alone and sad. I love the contrast of the full orchestra to a simple piano. It's a beautiful piece that accompanies an amazing piece of storytelling.

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