From films featuring Transformers to vampires, the rock and rap sounds of nu metal group Linkin Park have helped convey regret and rebirth on the big screen. Frontman Chester Bennington’s distinctive vocals alternated from screaming to soothing, finding the right emotion to help connect a film to its audience.
Bennington, 41, died by suicide on July 20, leaving behind a lasting legacy of music. The group’s lyrics offered comfort and understanding during trying times, touching millions of fans. I’ve been a fan since the group’s first album, “Hybrid Theory,” in 2000.
But Bennington and the group also left their impact on film. Three of Linkin Park’s songs appeared in the first three “Transformers” films by director Michael Bay.
The first movie in the franchise, 2007’s “Transformers,” features “What I’ve Done” playing over the final scenes and into the credits. As Autobot leader Optimus Prime calls out to other Transformers to join him on Earth, the aliens’ new home, the song’s refrain kicks in with Bennington’s charged vocals:
“What I’ve done – I’ll face myself to cross out what I’ve become. Erase myself, and let go of what I’ve done.”
The lyrics echo the Autobots’ desire to put the destruction of their home planet behind them, and start a new life on Earth.
This started a tradition for the next two movies to end with a hopeful monologue by Optimus Prime, punctuated by the rising strains of Linkin Park. In the second film “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” the Autobots must confront a past enemy, a confrontation that nearly costs Optimus Prime and human protagonist Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) their lives. As the final scene plays, the rock-heavy “A New Divide,” with its determined lyrics of embracing a new start, kicks in.
The third film, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” features the defining and devastating battle between the Autobots and Decepticons in Chicago. It ends with the soft, calming “Iridescent,” with Bennington gently urging those who “feel cold and lost in desperation” to let the frustration and sadness go.
Bennington also contributed songs, either by himself or with Linkin Park, to the soundtracks for “Queen of the Damned,” “Underworld: Evolution,” “Twilight,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and “Need for Speed.”
In 2008’s “Twilight,” Linkin Park’s “Leave Out All the Rest” plays over the ending credits. In the film based on Stephenie Meyer’s young adult best-seller, high school student Bella (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) struggle to address their feelings for one another and acknowledge the obstacles their supernatural romance presents.
When Bella faces death in the film, she doesn’t regret the time she spent with Edward or the danger she finds herself in – and will throughout the series – because of it. The lyrics of “Leave Out All the Rest” and Bennington’s soothing delivery help convey Bella’s determination that her love for Edward is worth it:
“When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done. Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed. … Keep me in your memory, leave out all the rest, leave out all the rest.”
Bennington also tried his hand at acting, making cameos in “Crank,” “Crank: High Voltage” and “Saw 3D.”
(Editor’s Note: Clip of “Crank” features some explicit language and is NSFW.)
Bennington’s personal lyrics and comforting vocals helped many of us when we felt alone. His music will live on through his songs and the films that feature them.
RIP Chester Bennington.