Wagner, meet Brian. Brian meet Wagner.
There’s one thing I know, for certain, if there was one piece of music that needed an extra ominous minor chord key change, it’s that tune people walk down the aisle to.
Yup. It’s the actual Wedding March, given the full force of Brian’s guitar, and an extra glimmer of evil.
It’s kind of perfect, and doesn’t need me to say anything to prove it. This is the full bombast of all of Brian’s guitar blaring out something huge and familiar, but with a roughened brutalist texture. Full bombast. Utter rage.
And a perfect minor key change. Just like every wedding deserves.
Actually, Wagner’s march is called ‘The Bridal Chorus’ and belongs to the beginning of act three of the opera Lohengrin. There it heralds a pretty bleak start to a marriage, with a bit of bridal chamber murder, and the titular groom leaving in exile before the end of the day.
It’s not really the ideal wedding situation.
But then, nor is Dale’s.
There’s a really weird moment earlier in the film, where Dale explains to Aura that she can’t run away, because she’d promised Ming that she would try to be a good wife, on condition of him not hurting Barin and Zarkov. Aura explains that Ming is not going to stick to that, and Dale explains that she has to keep the vow anyway, because it’s one of the things that makes humans better than all this alien riff raff.
The whole film is obsessed with the supposed superiority of humanity to the aliens. Zarkov makes himself immune to mind conditioning by singing the Beatles to himself. Aura’s never heard of team work or tears.
And here, humanity is really good at keeping vows? Has anyone in this film seen any of history? Dale’s ‘a New York girl’, and she thinks every promise is kept?
Anyway, it’s a weird moment, and entirely ignored during the vows, when Dale actually refuses, and just screams a bit.
Not that I’m saying she should, just that it’s all a bit odd. Marriage is a problematic institution at the best of times, and Ming’s vows aren’t exactly an improvement on the standard.
It’s all pretty bleak.
But somehow, the application of a surprisingly appropriate wedding piece, with such verve, and the sky writers demanding ‘All citizens must make merry. On pain of death.’ Makes a pretty disturbing chain of events into something surprisingly funny. It’s one of those moments where the soundtrack carries the tone to a place the flim doesn’t quite hit upon visually. It marries the farce and the drama well, creating something bleakly wry.
And I’m always disappointed when I’m at a wedding that nobody ever plays this version.
Wagner and May make a surprisingly strong match. A particular type of tonal bombast that marries together beautifully.
There’s not much to it except familiarity, tone and noise, but it’s kinda perfect, for all that.
Because it’s dark, and brooding and familiar, and a bit scary, for all it’s intended optimism.
And that damn minor key change.
Queen: An Exploded Diagram is me having big and little thoughts about every Queen song in chronological order. If you want to support me, making it more financially viable and easier to explain to people at parties, please back my patreon.
Illustration by Emma.