The Moment of Anagnorisis in Film: Tonal and Metric Shifts at Critical Turning Points

Benjamin Graf, University of North Texas

While several film scores of the 21st century continue to employ the cliché, quintessential features of old Hollywood traditions, several recent film cues transcend extant creative boundaries. For example, at the most critical turning point for the central character (anagnorisis), several film cues end with abrupt tonal and metric shifts, thereby epitomizing a transformation in the protagonist's quest on screen. I focus on scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean (Hans Zimmer), Moana (Lin-Manuel Miranda), and Frozen II (Kristen and Robert Anderson-Lopez), elucidating tonal, metric, motivic and dramatic connections to offer a nuanced perspective on cinematic moments that, due to their defiance of old Western tonal logic, have thus far existed on the fringes of film music analysis.