Listening to Ligeti in the Godzilla Teaser

When classical music is associated with popular entertainment, the result is usually to trivialize it (who can listen to the “William Tell Overture” without thinking of the Lone Ranger?). Kubrick’s film is almost unique in enhancing the music by its association with his images.

—Roger Ebert, in his review of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

So the latest trailer for Gareth Edwards forthcoming Godzilla reboot has arrived, and so we come to the necessary discussion.

I’ll dispense with the obvious: the teaser is indeed tantalizing, and intriguing to say the least. And since I’m often intrigued in saying more than most, I thought I might comment on the use of music in the teaser. In lieu of a traditional discussion and dissection of the trailer (because really, what is the bloody point in doing that? Just watch the damn thing), I thought I might talk more specifically about that track underscoring our first tenebrous glimpse of the titular creature.

For those few curious individuals who didn’t already know (or yet to google it) the music is György Ligeti’s “Requiem”. You may remember it from its most famous usage in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey as the leitmotif for the enigmatic and alien monoliths at the core of the film’s mysterious story. Given this association, it seems only fitting that the makers of the Godzilla teaser would trade on the Kubrick allusion to underscore the introduction of modern audiences to a new evolution of the Godzilla franchise. Though it may seem that the teaser borrows merely on the allusion to Kubrick, perhaps it also draws meaning from Ligeti’s own work. Continue reading