Kaleb E. Goldschmitt deposited From Miami to Hong Kong SoundingTransnational Queerness and Translation in Moonlight in the group Film Studies on Humanities Commons 6 months, 1 week ago
Through the example of Barry Jenkins’ choices for Moonlight (2016), this chapter argues that pre-existing musical cues can link a film’s themes to other minority filmmaking traditions. The song at the center of this chapter, “Cucurrucucú Paloma,” exemplifies the kinds of cultural translations common in transnational queer cinema. It was originally a Mexican song recorded by a Brazilian musical icon that first appeared in Happy Together (1997), Wong Kar-Wai’s film about two gay men from Hong Kong on holiday in Argentina, and later appeared in Pedro Almodóvar’s Hable Con Ella (2006). The placement of that song in close proximity to Aretha Franklin’s “One Step Ahead” translates Veloso’s vocals to Black, queer context. While these references may seem innocuous to a general cinematic audience, they do important affective work for publics for whom the musical codes are more meaningful. Through these musical choices the film to takes part in transnational notions of queer sentiment. The transnational orientation of the film’s soundtrack is all the more meaningful for characters that are largely excluded from the cosmopolitan reputation of Miami due to poverty and structural oppression. Contextualizing the musical choices of a filmmaker such as Jenkins allows us further insight into how seemingly obscure musical cues can deepen the film’s meaning for knowledgeable publics.