Bonnie and Clyde told by Flatt and Scruggs

         Bonnie and Clyde was rated one of the top twenty-five most dangerous movies by Premiere magazine (“Bonnie and Clyde”). If one were to listen only to the soundtrack, the movie would give off the feeling of a country hoedown rather than a “shoot-em-up.” The movie’s soundtrack was about ninety-five percent bluegrass (mostly provided by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs), even though the movie setting and historical setting was in Texas. The other five percent was digetic jazz music and a one-minute love score.

         The music of the film played many roles. The bluegrass music acted as the travel music, played only when Bonnie and Clyde were on the run after a bank robbery. It also acted as tension creator. The fast paced bluegrass music made my heart beat and gave me the feeling of being chased just like the gang. This empathy, of feeling what the characters were feeling, glorified the criminals and made me feel that I was one of them on this crazy adventure. The music helped the audience get into the Barrow gang car, and at the end feel anger and sadness for the gang members’ death.

         The digetic music gives clues to what the characters are feeling, or about to feel. At the beginning, the scene opens to Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) lounging around (naked) in her room listening to a slow jazz tune on the radio. The slow jazz creates the atmosphere that Bonnie’s home life is very boring, and she is aching (as is the audience) to get the action going.

         Later in the movie, we hear music being played on the radio at the hotel after the family picnic. Bonnie needs the music to express her feelings of sadness for leaving her family. She gets irritated, as does the audience, because she cannot hear the blues on the radio because everyone in the room is being so loud. The music acts as a symbol for her inability to express her desire to Clyde (Warren Beatty) to settle down and go back to her family.

         The love theme score is an orchestrated one-minute score during the scene where Bonnie tries to run away. The music does not fit in the historical setting, nor with the movies musical color. The score is cheesy and overly dramatic, and is clearly trying to show that the movie is also a love story. The problem I have with this random piece is that it is not needed, the actors do a fine job getting the love theme across, and the music is too different and serves as an unneeded reminder of the love story.

         Finally, the best use of music in the movie (besides the car travel music) is the use in the scene after Bonnie’s poem is published in the newspaper and Clyde falls back in love with her because she has made them famous. The bluegrass music starts as the newspaper with the poem starts to roll away from them. This symbolizes that their story travels on and that they will travel on. The music helps to relay the symbolism because the bluegrass music has been used throughout the movie as travel/getaway music, and seeing the papers roll away with the music playing lets the audience believe that Bonnie and Clyde will forever get away.

Work Cited

Bonnie and Clyde.” (

Susie Shircliff

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