Without a doubt, Edgar Wright is my favourite film maker. There are many reasons I respect his work so much, but one key aspect is that he recognises how important music and sound design are in creating a film. From his early work on Spaced, to the Cornetto Trilogy and Scott Pilgrim, Wright has shown that music can often be the driving force (pun intended) to a scene, and even a film. Perhaps it was obvious that the culmination of his film making would get him to his latest film, Baby Driver, where the entirety of the film is synchronised to a carefully selected soundtrack. Less of an action film with music, Baby Driver is a musical with action.
Perhaps the best illustration of this method is the opening car chase, choreographed to ‘Bellbottoms’ by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (watch it here). This track was one that Wright listened to in the 90’s and the entire idea for the film was born from this one song. The film opens with the high pitched sounds heard by those with tinnitus, thus showing us Baby’s condition. The whiny tone is pitched perfectly to the background score, and already we are aware that this film will be dictated by its sound design. Then, with the click of an iPod, ‘Bellbottoms’ kicks in, and nearly every shot, character action and car move from thereafter is cut to a certain beat of the song.
While Wright’s music choice is important, what I think is more impressive is his use of sound effects. What the audience judges as diegetic ambient sound, Wright sees as a chance to engulf you in his musical world. Every car horn, lorry reversing beep and footstep is in time to the music, often without the audience realising (a great example of this can be seen in the opening titles, found here.) All this synchronisation culminates into an utterly enjoyable, heart racing and toe-tapping film that only begins to slow the moment the end credits start rolling. Baby Driver is another slice of fried-gold from Wright.