I have a background on my watch that shows a little picture of the Earth, where you are located, and if it is nighttime or daytime. It also has little pictures you can press that will show you the current position of each planet in the solar system. I spent a lot of time speeding up and slowing down time to see if I could get the planets to align but it seems I will not be able to free the titans any time soon. One thing I did notice along with the rest of the world, was that Mars was passing extremely close to us, about 48 million miles, right now.
Around every 26 months Mars is in opposition, which is to say that we are in between the Sun and Mars. This year, the event lit up mars beautifully last night showing as a bright reddish star in the sky. This is particularly amazing to me as these events are, usually, either blocked by heavy cloud cover or the normal light pollution of living in downriver Detroit. But not last night. I went outside about 1am and looked just to the right of the moon to see a shiny red marble staring back at me. I was using an app to locate other celestial bodies and was able to pick out Saturn as well. I even saw a faint glow of Jupiter, although it may have just been another star. It immediately made me wish I had a telescope but after I got over that disappointment I went to Netflix to watch some Cosmos.
It’s been over 2 years now since Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey aired and over 35 years since the original Cosmos but both programs brought a powerful message to audiences around the world: how you learn is more important than what you learn. While I love and still revisit episodes of the classic Carl Sagan series, the updated show of 2014 benefited not only from new technology in film and computer rendered graphics but from a heightened production value and experience in Brannon Braga and a fantastic score from Alan Silvestri. In fact, those visuals of swirling galaxies merging or long strands of DNA splitting would have fallen flat if not for the breathtaking score.
I spend a lot, possibly too much, time listening to film, television, and game scores by every composer but Alan Silvestri and the Mummy soundtrack was a huge part of growing up, even more than classic John Williams scores. Both of these composers created timeless themes that bleed into all of their work. You can hear parts of The Avengers or even Forrest Gump in Cosmos. I don’t ever see this as rehashing content or recycling to make things easier but as much as a writer who covers many genres has their own voice, a composer, no matter the subject, will always hear some of their personal voice come through.
Here comes the worst segue ever, but I say all of this to cover an emotional response I had when watching the live action Beauty and the Beast teaser that was released this morning. The teaser is less of a trailer and more of an announcement. We have known about this movie coming along with its star studded cast for quite some time and we have even seen a few set pictures. While in this trailer we only see Belle’s (Emma Watson) face for a moment and hear Lumiere and Cogsworth say one line each, there is something in this trailer that dwarfs all of it for me and that is the familiar piano notes that opened the 1991 animated feature film echoing throughout the rapidly aging castle. It brought me back to watching that stained glass montage as a kid or watching live performances at Disney World and community theater.
I guess if I have to tie this all together nicely with some kind of moral it would be to try to observe the world beyond what is on the surface. Spend some time outside at night stargazing even if you think there’s nothing special to see. Scroll past the “music inspired by” selection when looking up music and take a listen to the subtle voice the composer creates for themselves in a film score. Most of all, don’t just watch, look, or listen, try to experience a thing for all of its parts, not just what’s popular or easy.