Do you want to know what level of film geek I am? Expert.
Here’s a recent example.
While watching the film Spirited Away in theaters, I heard the exact same musical cue as used in the movie Death Wish.
Spirited Away is a 2001 Japanese animated kid’s movie from 2001 by Hayao Miyazaki under Studio Ghibli.
Death Wish is a 1974 Charles Bronson vigilante movie by Michael Winner.
I went home afterwards and put in my Blu-Rays of both films to confirm what I heard. Sure enough, it’s the exact same music.
THE. EXACT. SAME. MUSIC.
It’s done on piano. It’s just two chords. Just a few short seconds. But it’s so memorable in Death Wish that I can recall it whether I’ve seen that movie recently or not. Kind of like most of us can start humming The Imperial March from the Star Wars movies on cue. I can do that with this theme from Death Wish. Herbie Hancock composed the music for Death Wish, so he can pursue the copyright infringement case if he wants to.
If you want to check it yourself, please do.
DEATH WISH: At the 35:04 mark. Bronson is in the shooting range for target practice in preparation for becoming a vigilante. He says to his friend, “I loved my father.” He fires the gun. The piano cue plays on the soundtrack. It’s this scene right here:
SPIRITED AWAY: At the 5:38 mark. Young Chihiro is walking through the dark scary tunnel with her parents. They emerge from the tunnel and pause in a large room with colored windows and benches. They walk across the room to the exit. The piano cue plays on the soundtrack.
These two films couldn’t have less to do with each other. And I’m not even really suggesting that one copied the other. I’m just happy to notice and recognize a grouping of notes that was used by two different film composers decades apart from two different countries. It’s bound to happen. There are only so many notes and chords, after all. But damn if I didn’t make a surprised face as I watched the kid’s anime, heard the cue, and thought immediately of Charles Bronson blowing away muggers in New York City. Which is the absolute last thing that I should be thinking of during that movie.
I suppose if you really wanted to stretch for another similarity between the two films, you could make a case that Charles Bronson is No-Face.
All I do know is, if there’s ever a trivia question asking what the movies Death Wish and Spirited Away have in common, I’m taking home the prize.