BySam Cooper, writer at
Spastic writer and a lover of all things with the word "espresso" in the title.
Sam Cooper

There's no doubt that Edgar Wright is one of the most unique directors in film, and his latest release, the high-octane thriller Baby Driver, is quite possibly his most experimental work yet. Baby Driver doesn't just follow the motifs of hyper violence, off-beat humor, and alternative storytelling that made 's movies so memorable — Baby Driver is dedicated to its soundtrack.

It sounds strange, but the movie is just as much a music video as it is an action flick. Each scene is edited to the soundtrack, and the result is a pulse-pounding whirlwind of a story. In addition to the fact that it's just a great movie, there is a scientific reason why Baby Driver is impossible to forget. Open your ears, everyone, because your hearing is the first sense to be taken for a ride.

'Baby Driver' [Credit: TriStar Pictures]
'Baby Driver' [Credit: TriStar Pictures]

Music To My Ears / Music Shifts My Gears

Soundtracks have always been important in movies. When you look back on films like Titanic, The Lion King and The Sound of Music, the soundtrack is often the first thing you remember. However, music is a little more important in today's releases.

After Guardians of the Galaxy drove a spike in soundtrack popularity, the latest releases have been fighting to keep their heads above water. shifts the competition to the next gear. In the story, Baby (played by Ansel Elgort) lives with tinnitus, a constant ringing in his ears. He plays music to drown it out. It helps him focus when he drives. Music is essential to the plot of Baby Driver, and it fits into each scene seamlessly. On the outside, it's a colorful addition to the style of the movie. On the inside, the music triggers a special response in our brains.

'Baby Driver' [Credit: TriStar Pictures]
'Baby Driver' [Credit: TriStar Pictures]

Here's one thing we all know: Music is incredibly pleasing to our ears. Music is also predictable, which keeps our thoughts looking forward to what comes next. Dropping a song into a movie scene has these two effects in the brain.

  • Hearing the music triggers the release of dopamine, the "feel good" chemical in our bodies. As soon as the beat drops, we grow more alert and are more likely to enjoy what we're hearing. This enhanced awareness is part of the reason it's easier to remember songs than the facts on on your upcoming biology test. The same goes for Baby Driver. It's easier to remember what's happening onscreen when our blood pressure is higher, when our adrenaline is pumping, and we're more in-tune with the world.
  • Our brains love patterns. Routines. Repetitions. The rhythm of music triggers our brains to start processing, anticipating and predicting what we'll hear next. While the vibes of a song make us feel good, the rhythm is what keeps us interested. Hearing music is an activity, and we're more apt to make new memories if we are directly involved in something rather than being a witness. Baby Driver takes the audience out of their seats and asks us to get involved.

Facts To Know / Science To Show

The production of Baby Driver creatures the perfect formula for making new memories. Hold on, because we're about to drop some anatomy terms. When we encounter music, specifically Baby Driver's innovative style of editing visuals over the soundtrack, the Medial Prefrontal Cortex of our brain is stimulated. This is the problem solving, thinking part of our brain, and scientists also believe it holds an essential role in processing memories. Once a memory is formed from our senses, thoughts, and feelings, it is sent to the Hippocampus for storage.

'Baby Driver' [Credit: TriStar Pictures]
'Baby Driver' [Credit: TriStar Pictures]

In addition to getting multiple parts of our brain involved, Baby Driver plays with the psychological concept of association. Association is why it's so easy to remember the film.

Maybe you've heard some of the songs in Baby Driver's soundtrack, and maybe you haven't, but the eclectic style of the film guarantees that any time you encounter these specific songs, your Prefrontal Cortex will pull memories of the film from your Hippocampus. It's an involuntary response. We make connections that strengthen the more we use them. Baby Driver takes the advantage by creating more association points in the film. In other words, Baby Driver can't help but be memorable — the chemistry of our minds doesn't give us a choice.

More Than Just Style / To These Racing Miles

Sure, it's fun to watch a movie that behaves more like a two-hour music video, but the memorability of Baby Driver doesn't just depend on the style. The story itself — the emotion and meaning — impacts our brain in the same way.

In the film, Baby is a young man working to pay his debt to the leader of a ring of organized crime. While this isn't exactly a relatable situation, Baby is a relatable person. He's quiet, a little quirky, and he's haunted by the car crash that took his mother's life. Our natural response is to read our own experiences into the film, which engages the two neural responses that have already been running. The first is the recall of memories. The second is the production of the chemicals that make us feel emotion. Both of these responses are regulated in the Hippocamus.

Watching a film is always a two-way experience, but Baby Driver triggers these responses at a faster rate; it asks more of the audience; it keeps our neurons firing at full speed.

'Baby Driver' [Credit: TriStar Pictures]
'Baby Driver' [Credit: TriStar Pictures]

Merging Lanes / Connect Our Brains

It all comes back to our brain. Baby Driver sparks our concentration with an incredible soundtrack, enhances the response by marrying the visuals to the music, and completes the experience by asking us to feel something for Ansel Elgort's lovable character. Our brains work overtime just to enjoy the film.

Baby Driver is, scientifically speaking, hard to forget.


Which production aspect of 'Baby Driver' was your favorite?

Source: Live Science


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