Pixar has mastered the art of making grown-ups cry, and in films like Up, Monsters, Inc., and Toy Story 3, the score plays a big part in eliciting that emotion. So why doesn’t every movie simply add sad music to an already sad scene? It’s not that easy, warns YouTuber Sideways, in this smart video essay that explains how the process is way more complicated than simply changing the key.
If you want to create an emotional response, the essay argues, the best method is to create dissonance between what the audience hears and what they see. That’s what gives us such effective tearjerkers as “Ellie’s Theme” and “So Long”—both songs that were used in happier scenes before transforming others from sad to devastating. And it’s a lesson that other movies could learn from, as Sideways so ably demonstrates here.