The journey to self-discovery is a highlighting period for many young adults. Many filmmakers utilize those coming-of-age experiences to express the reality and pains of growing older. One contemporary example of this genre is Garden State. Released in 2004, this film transcends beyond the typical search for self-identity and purpose. The true connection of this movie with the audience lies within the soundtrack, which expresses a variety of musical perspectives and intimately parallels the feelings of the characters. Directed and starred by Zach Braff, a young and popular actor, Garden State unveils a modern-day perspective into the random encounters life has to offer and the music that narrates the feelings felt during the ride. Garden State is a heartfelt story of Andrew Largeman's journey away from the problems he realizes he "may not even have" (Braff). Prompted by the death of his mother, the movie follows Andrew's return to Newark, New Jersey after nine years of living in Los Angeles.
[...] His thoughts remain unclear throughout this scene and onto the next as it shifts to a white room where Andrew, dressed in white, is lying robotically under his white sheets. A message from his father explaining the death of Andrew's mother plays from the phone while Andrew's eyes remain lifeless. The whiteness of the entire room, including Andrew's clothing, illustrates the lack of color within his life. Emotionally blank, Andrew's reactions thus far sets the film into an existential undertaking of how his meaningless world will change. [...]
[...] As stated by Theo van Leeuwen, the “verbal meaning system” in which lyrics relate can be interpreted in many ways (95). The title of the song describes Andrew's calm and relaxed mannerisms while the lyrics directly correlate to the ironic beauty of life and death. During the verse live in a beautiful world,” the opening title of Garden State is presented, elaborating on the irony of the world in which Andrew lives (“Don't Panic Lyrics”). The succinct imaging of the title heightens the effect of the movie as the song provides a softening touch that contrasts the reality of Andrew's situation. [...]
[...] According to Claudia Gorbman, “music sets moods and tonality in film narrative There is no other dialogue or sounds while Andrew is on his ecstasy trip. There is only the song that sets into motion the feelings of isolation and confusion that accompany the visuals. The lyrics in this scene simultaneously connect the actors and audience with the actions being conveyed. As the perspective shifts from Andrew's own eyes to a frame around his situation, the audience is jerked around from being in Andrew's shoes to casting their own judgment on the scene. [...]
[...] Braff's choice of compiled songs for the soundtrack of Garden State reflects upon the basis of the movie's plotline in correlation to Braff's own life. As the writer, director, composer and star of the film, Braff basically imputed some parts of himself into the movie and “made a mix CD with all of the music that felt was scoring [his] life at the time was writing the screenplay” (“Garden State Soundtrack”). Braff offers a link between his world and the Garden State world he is trying to convey through his own musical preferences. [...]
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