This weeks #TuneTuesday comes from a recent (at the time of typing) film soundtrack. It is Bathroom Dance from 'Joker' by Hildur Guðnadóttir.
Given that the film is fairly new (at the time of typing), I won't say too much about the overall plot of the film, other than that this film is an interesting take on the origin story of Batman's nemesis, The Joker, who is presented in a far more sympathetic light than pretty much every interpretation of The Clown Prince of Crime. Whilst some may not like this take on the Joker, I love sympathetic villains, especially when it comes to the Joker because you are almost rooting for him to cause chaos, even though you shouldn't.
We are not born monsters, but it is our environments that descend us into madness...
As such, there are many points in the film where Arthur Fleck could become the mastermind known as The Joker. His metamorphosis is hinted constantly with this cello idea in C sharp minor, rocking back and forth between the C sharp and the E, perhaps representing the seesaw motion of Joker's sanity. These parts of the score are very different from the usual, brooding textual devices and 60s records the rest of the film is filled with. It is held off, for a very long time, for obvious plot and tension reasons.
Then there is a moment towards the end of the film, where this idea is fleshed out in full, with more cello overdubs and female vocals. This is where Arthur finally becomes The Joker, dancing to himself in a public bathroom, hence the cue name. I am reminded of a Nietzsche quote at this point in the film. "And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
It is incredibly sad to listen to for sure, but more than anything, there is a sense of catharsis as Arthur breaks free, realising that he no longer has to pretend to be like everyone else, not hiding the fact that he takes pleasure in the murder and violence around him, whether he caused it or not. From the point of the audience, he has finally snapped, no longer wants people to abuse and bully him. In any case, he is free from the shackles of his former self. The Joker is born.