Some famous movie scenes set to classical music include the opening scene from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the helicopter bombing scene in “Apocalypse Now” and Hannibal Lecter’s escape scene in “Silence of the Lambs.” These memorable moments make use of classical music to either contrast or complement the moods of these different scenes.
Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” uses Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” at various points throughout the film, but the iconic opening sequence, representing the dawn of civilization and technology, is particularly notable. Frequently parodied in pop culture, Kubrick uses the composition’s grandeur and sense of scope to draw a line across the millennia between primitive apes and intergalactic space travelers.
One of the most celebrated war films of all time, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” famously uses Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” as the backdrop to the brutal bombing of a Vietnamese village. Playing from the cockpit of an attack helicopter, the music emphasizes the epic carnage inherent in warfare.
“The Silence of the Lambs” juxtaposes mastermind serial killer Hannibal Lecter’s gruesome escape from prison with the soothing sounds of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.” Played via a small tape deck in Lecter’s cell, the gentle harpsichord music provides stark contrast to the bloodied bodies left in the wake of Lecter’s jailbreak.