From one of my favourite flims of all-time, this scene is only one amongst so many fulfilling film music moments in the hit 2004 film. Garden State, directed by lead actor Zach Braff, emerged during a period of movie-making in which it felt like so many soundtracks were making splashes as those overflowing with emerging artists and underground sounds. Featuring a number of indie musicians like The Shins, Zero 7 and Nick Drake, Braff says he crafted the Garden State soundtrack based on his own musical preferences at the time: “Essentially, I made a mix CD with all of the music that I felt was scoring my life at the time I was writing the screenplay.”
This scene comes later in the film after one of my other favourite film music moments, when upon first meeting him, Natalie Portman (Sam) passes Braff (Andrew) her headphones – telling him to listen to a song (“New Slang” by The Shins) because it will “change his life.” Anyone who knows me knows I usually insist on this when handing over a favourite song, so to stumble upon the movie in high school – I was over the moon to hear it penned into a script.
This scene, like some of the other best moments in this film, doesn’t have too much dialogue in it – therefore making it simple to appreciate the perfectly assigned tunes. Andrew, his friend Mark (Peter Saarsgard) and his love-interest Sam go to retrieve something from a man whose job is to guard an underdeveloped quarry, which the man jokingly refers to as his “infinite abyss”. As you’ll see, Andrew – who for different reasons has felt numb for the better portion of his life – clearly has an epiphany, finding alternate meaning and clarity out of the whole encounter. Whether it’s his yelling into the abyss, kissing Sam for the first time, or the amazing lyrical song choice of “Only Living Boy in New York” by Simon and Garfunkel – it was an automatic classic for me the first time I saw it.
If you haven’t yet – this movie is one worth watching start to finish. So, go grab a copy!