First Hit #1: September 13, 1986
Tony Scott was a music video director who accidentally started making movies. For example, The Hunger is filled with shots of billowing curtains, flying doves, and general slick atmosphere. It looks closer to a contemporary Bonnie Tyler video than a feature film. His big commercial hit Top Gun, a tale of love and fighter jets, similarly had moments that are as much about the music as they are about whatever is supposed to be happening on screen. But with Top Gun, the scenes I remembered were a combination of Kenny Loggins and fighter jets, while the big hit came with Berlin and Take My Breath Away, which was part of the love story that my teenage self kind of ignored due to the distinct lack of jets.
That said, it makes sense that Scott picked the song for the film. It’s a slick, synth-driven love song, which goes well with the slick atmosphere he was trying to create in the film. It’s also a song that doesn’t work at all with images of jets flying around, which seems counter-intuitive but makes sense for the film. It’s a love triangle, with Tom Cruise’s character torn between a sexy lady and some sexy dudes in planes, and it thus makes sense to have the songs conflict. Danger Zone would be inappropriate for a love scene, Take My Breath Away doesn’t work for combat. It’s an intelligent way to set up themes through soundtrack choices, and Scott always seemed to be very much about telling a story as much through his stylistic choices as anything in the script.