Two movies I love both have the same piece of music, God Yu Tekkem Laef Blong Mi, a pidgin English version of a hymn called Take My Life and Let It Be, written by English religious poet and hymnist Frances Havergal in 1874.
If you’ve never heard it, prepare to lose a few hours (and a lot of tears) with it on hard repeat – it’s as haunting as it is beautiful.
It was sung by the Choir of All Saints, Honiara, in the Solomon Islands and recorded by composer Hans Zimmer for Terrence Malick’s 1998 film The Thin Red Line, about American soldiers losing and finding their souls (and lives) while fighting in the South Pacific in World War II. Its first appearance comes as the end credits start to roll.
God Yu Tekkem Laef Blong Mi popped up again years later, in 2009’s Mr Nobody. Belgian director Jaco van Dormael’s beautiful, brilliant and confusing what-if fantasy wonders what happens to the universe (and the universe of our hearts) from the choices we make, imagining multiple realities that split off from the actions of the hero, Nemo.
It plays during a particularly beautiful sequence that depicts the home of our souls before we’re born. Represented as happily dancing children in a world made of light, each soul looks down on Earth and chooses the parents to be born to. When it has, two angels come down to put a finger to the lips (forming the philtrum) so that when the soul is born on Earth, it remembers nothing about what came before.
No real coincidence, right? Music appears in more than one movie all the time (I’ll never forget the heartbreaking piece of music from the end of The Crow that later appeared in the trailer for Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor years later.
But one of the blink-and-you’ll miss them A-list cast from The Thin Red Line (among George Clooney, John Travolta, Woody Harrelson, Adrien Brody, Sean Penn, Elias Koteas, John Cusack, John C Reilly and Nick Nolte) is the kid from Requiem For a Dream and Panic Room who’d be destined to play The Joker one day, Jared Leto.
And who plays the adult Nemo in Mr Nobody? Jared Leto.