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Hymns for the FallenCombat Movie Music and Sound after Vietnam$
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Todd Decker

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520282322

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520282322.001.0001

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(p.173) 8. Unmetered
Hymns for the Fallen

Todd Decker

University of California Press

Post-Vietnam Hollywood combat filmmakers set aside the most common musical trope of earlier war movies: the military march. Instead, new musical tropes were developed, initially in the 1980s Vietnam cycle. A particularly unstable musical register, here called veil music, uses musical texture rather than melody or meter to expresses a range of equivocal combat states, most related to the foreignness of the battlefield for the American soldiers at the center of these films. In the Vietnam cycle, veil music is connected to moments of moral liminality, when surprising acts of violence might be done. Examples from Platoon and Full Metal Jacket are discussed. Veil music in war films set in the Middle East often characterize the Arab other by way of untranslated singing voices, putting exotic musical tropes to rather generalized uses characterizing the foreign other. Examples from The Hurt Locker, Black Hawk Down, and Three Kings are analyzed.

Keywords:   Exoticism, combat films, military march, musical texture, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, The Hurt Locker, Black Hawk Down, Three Kings, American soldiers

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