The Most Emotional Film Scores

“Emotion resulting from a work of art is only of value when it is not obtained by sentimental blackmail,” Jean Cocteau once wrote. When assessing the most emotional film scores, in honor of composer Krzysztof Penderecki’s birthday, today (the Polish musician responsible for the devastatingly affecting work, “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima”), we stayed clear of overly sentimental and cloying scores, of which there are many. Instead, we explored ten tender abstractions that take us to the heart of each film and remain memorable as solo works of art. Feel free to add to our list, below.

Paris, Texas

Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas opens with the lonely twang of Ry Cooder’s slide-guitar soundtrack and Harry Dean Stanton surveying the vast desert before him. It sets the perfect tone for Wenders’ soulful tale of alienation and redemption. Cooder based the soundtrack on Blind Willie Johnson’s 1927 blues song, “Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground).”