One of my favorite movies is Topsy-Turvy, which recreates with astounding accuracy the events leading up to the original premiere of The Mikado in 1885. The director, Mike Leigh, used music from the other operas of Gilbert and Sullivan throughout the film, sometimes in ways that very subtly reflect what is happening on screen. The arrangements being used as background music throughout the film are purely instrumental. But IF you know the lyrics, you realize that they make a statement about the action.
First example: a group of cast members are sitting in a restaurant discussing the capture of Khartoum and the death of General Gordon. The music playing is from Patience, and is called “The Soldiers of Our Queen”. The lyrics are, in part:
Second example: Sullivan’s mistress announces that she has become pregnant and is making “the usual arrangements”. Playing quietly in the background is a song from Iolanthe called “My Lord, A Suppliant at Your Feet”, which includes the line:
So have any other Dopers noticed similar esoteric references in other films?