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Journeys on ScreenTheory, Ethics, Aesthetics$
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Louis Bayman and Natália Pinazza

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474421836

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421836.001.0001

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The Sense of an Ending: Music, Time and Romance in Before Sunrise

The Sense of an Ending: Music, Time and Romance in Before Sunrise

(p.167) Chapter 10 The Sense of an Ending: Music, Time and Romance in Before Sunrise
Journeys on Screen

Carlo Cenciarelli

Edinburgh University Press

Right from the start, Before Sunrise presents us with the problem of its ending. The film narrates the on-the-road romance of Jesse and Celine, who meet on a train through central Europe, fall for each other, and decide to spend a day and night together in Vienna before continuing their respective journeys, never to see each other again. In a move that is typical of indie cinema, the two protagonists trade the idea of a ‘happily ever after’ with the possibility of experiencing a moment together. And yet, for this same reason, their time together is inseparable from the feeling of the approaching goodbye, which threatens their very ability to experience the moment. My chapter explores how Before Sunrise draws on music to find a solution to this conundrum. I show that, as we approach the temporal deadline of the title, Bach’s music is used to mobilise a set of complementary eschatological frameworks that are meant both to freeze and extend the time in Vienna. More broadly, I suggest that the film provides a model of cinema’s use of music to make sense of endings and of the time-bound nature of the cinematic experience.

Keywords:   Cinematic time, Endings, on-the-road romance, pre-existing music, indie cinema

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