My Thoughts on: Frankenstein (1931)

When I decided that I was going to embrace the Halloween spirit and watch “Halloween-ish” movies during the month of October, I knew that Frankenstein (1931) had to be somewhere on that list. This film, to me, is essential viewing for the Halloween season, as I consider it to be the most iconic film ever made about Frankenstein and his Monster (here portrayed brilliantly by Boris Karloff).

As you might expect, Frankenstein sets out to tell the story of Henry Frankenstein (renamed from Victor for some reason and also played brilliantly by Colin Clive), and his quest to imbue a body of his own creation (Boris Karloff) with life. While the experiment works, things quickly go sideways and soon the Monster is terrorizing the countryside (though whether or not he’s aware that he’s doing so is something I’ll address later). At the same time, Frankenstein is also hoping to get married to his long-suffering sweetheart Elizabeth (Mae Clarke) to ease the mind of his equally long-suffering father (Frederick Kerr).

Truthfully, having read the original Frankenstein novel, I can tell you that this film only bears a superficial resemblance to Mary Shelley’s story about “the modern Prometheus.” Most of the book’s plot, in fact, is excised to allow the film to center around the Monster being given life and the chaos that follows. Possibly the biggest difference between book and film is that the loquacious Monster in the book is almost completely silent in the film, his speech being limited to grunts and cries of pain and anger. It’s somewhat disappointing, as Karloff had a beautiful voice and I believe would’ve done justice to the Monster’s lines in the book. However, I understand what director James Whale was going for in this film, and also support the notion of a Monster that cannot talk, at least at the beginning (this changes in the sequel film The Bride of Frankenstein).

However, despite all these differences from the source novel, Frankenstein is a wonderful film and remains an iconic take on the story of Frankenstein and his Monster. While bearing a different name, Colin Clive’s Henry Frankenstein remains for me the iconic take on the titular character. He’s filled with a nervous energy that becomes especially palpable during the scene of the Monster’s creation. I’ve yet to see anyone else play the role of Frankenstein and top this performance.

I think my favorite scene in the film is the Monster’s creation scene. This is what I always imagined the creation scene looked like in the Frankenstein story (and I was so disappointed to discover the book does NOT tell you how Frankenstein brought the Monster to life) and it’s spine-tingling to hear Frankenstein howling with joy “It’s alive….IT’S ALIVE!!!” Surrounded by the crackling electricity, it’s an exciting moment that’s just pure in its intentions.

The biggest element the film gets right is the doubt it sows throughout about the Monster’s intentions. While the Monster of the book is undoubtedly a cunning creature inclined to villainy once it experiences rejection on multiple levels, the Monster of this film is another matter entirely. While the story almost immediately sets up the idea that the Monster will be and MUST be evil because an abnormal brain was used in its creation, the Monster’s action throughout the film suggest something else. Think about it…what evil did the Monster do and in what context? Yes, he did kill Frankenstein’s assistant Fritz but only after the latter tormented him with fire (the thing he hates above all else) even after being told to stop. True, he also killed Dr. Waldman but to be fair the latter was about to euthanize him and the Monster, being a living being, naturally wanted to continue living. Waldman somewhat brought his fate on itself by not being open at any time to the idea that the Monster was anything but evil. And after that, the scene with little Maria, anyone can see that her death was a tragic accident. The Monster was clearly enjoying playing with the little girl, and only threw her into the pond because he’d run out of things to throw and thought she would float like the pretty flower boats. This version of the Monster, I believe, is not inherently evil at all, but is only acting the best way he knows how, and it’s only through a series of errors that the entire village is stirred up against him.

Speaking of getting stirred up, I find it so interesting that no one in the village ever finds out that the monster Frankenstein is helping to hunt down was created by Frankenstein himself. You’ll notice Frankenstein never publicly volunteers the information that he created this monster that he’s working to destroy. Sure, he feels guilty about what he’s done, but not enough to publicly confess. I’m not sure if that’s hypocritical or selfish on Frankenstein’s part (or maybe both), but it is interesting.

And I think the biggest clue of all that the Monster in this film is not evil is how he reacts when the mill is set on fire. Fearing fire above all else, the Monster is clearly afraid, in pain, and just wanting to be left alone. It’s heartrending to watch, and it makes me wonder how the story could’ve been so different if Frankenstein had taken more care with his creation instead of immediately chaining him up the instant he wasn’t 100% obedient to him.

One more interesting detail I wanted to point out is that there’s really no music in this film except for the opening and closing titles of the film. In some scenes (like the Monster’s creation), this could probably be argued as a creative decision. However, I also know that in 1931 many films didn’t have proper musical soundtracks as we understand them today. This is largely because, while the technology of making a “talking film” had largely been figured out, the technology of making a “talking film with music in the background” had not. Hence, except for the village celebration scenes (and the opening/closing titles), there is no background music in Frankenstein. You’ll note, however, that this issue was corrected by the time of The Bride of Frankenstein in 1935.

I know it’s an older film, but I highly recommend adding Frankenstein (1931) to your Halloween viewing list. It’s classic horror in every sense of the word and really you should watch it for Boris Karloff’s performance alone.

Let me know what you think about Frankenstein (1931) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

My Thoughts on: Son of Frankenstein (1939)

My Thoughts on: The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

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My Thoughts on: Halloween (1978)

*deep breath* I did it. I’m scared out of my mind but I did it, I watched the original Halloween from beginning to end without stopping.

I should explain: I’ve had a fixation with horror/slasher movies for years, by which I mean I’m fascinated by them but I’ve always been too scared to watch them (being the kind that scares quite easily). However, this year, with everything that’s been going on in the world, I decided that now was the perfect time to dive in and check out some of the films that I’ve always been too scared to try in the past (YOLO right?). The original Halloween seemed like the perfect place to start (and also like the one I’d be most likely to get through given my other options were A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th).

If you haven’t seen it, Halloween is the first film to feature the silent killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle), who might be the Boogeyman given how callous he is when it comes to killing people. Fifteen years after committing a brutal murder (in a first person sequence that had me scared to death), Michael escapes from an asylum to return to the scene of the crime…and it’s on Halloween night. Michael is pursued by his doctor, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance), who hopes to stop Michael before it’s too late. Unfortunately, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is in for a Halloween she will never forget.

I knew going in that I’d be scared, but my God…..from the moment the film started I was neck deep in a sea of tension. And why? Because of that iconic music!!! You know what I’m talking about: that spooky piano melody that permeates the film. As soon as I hear it, it sends chills up my spine and puts me completely on edge. And that music can start at ANY time, you never know when it’s going to start up again, and it just makes things so scary! Speaking of music, I was also spooked by the sudden “moan” that comes into the music whenever Michael lunges out for the kill. It’s almost just as terrifying as the iconic theme. This is definitely one of those films where the music 100% contributes to the terror.

Despite this feeling, it actually takes most of the film for things to get messy (i.e. violent). Except, by that point (when Michael finally comes after Laurie), the tension has become completely unbearable. By this point (when Laurie finds out what’s happened to her friends), I’ve been watching Michael stalk (and kill) for over an hour, and I’m thoroughly spooked. So much so, in fact, that when Michael’s face slowly appears out of a darkened doorway behind Laurie, I swear to God I nearly screamed in terror. THAT is how you do a scary horror movie, build the tension to by-God-unimaginable levels of terror and then turn the scary killer loose on whoever’s left standing. I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep tonight, but by God I can admit when a film is well done, and that was well done indeed! (Also, I had no idea the sound of breathing could be made to sound so scary!)

Donald Pleasance is a joy to watch in this film. The way he talks about Michael speaks volumes about the silent character, how soulless and evil he is. Which is quite helpful since, as Michael himself never speaks, we have no way of knowing anything about him other than what Dr. Loomis tells us. I think what got to me the most though, was how calm Dr. Loomis was about it all, like he expected all of this would happen sooner or later. Then again, there was a pretty blatant hint about “unescapable fate” early in the film….

I identify so strongly with Laurie Strode it scared me to death. Like Laurie, I was the goody-two-shoes who focused on her studies, babysat, and wasn’t really interested in boys. I could easily see myself in her place and it was scaaaaary (particularly when Laurie was hiding in the closet). Even though I knew Laurie would come out of this alive (I always read plot summaries for films that I know will scare me so I know where most of the jump scares are), the film does such a good job of making it scary that I was freaked out the whole time.

Honestly, I have no idea how I’m going to sleep soundly tonight. I haven’t been this scared in I don’t know how long. Halloween was just as scary as I always thought it would be, but it wasn’t quite for the reasons I thought. The terror comes from the tension and anticipation of what Michael will do, less on what he actually does (although that’s just as scary too).

Am I glad I watched Halloween? Ultimately, yes, yes I am. I got through it, and even though I was really scared I didn’t turn it off. Will I be watching the movie again anytime soon? Ehh…..I wouldn’t hold my breath on that (it’ll probably be a yearly thing….maybe). I am really proud of myself though, for finally watching what everyone told me was an iconic horror film (and they were right!)

Let me know what you think about Halloween in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: The Blues Brothers (1980)

Unbelievably, one of my favorite childhood films turned 40 this year. I grew up watching The Blues Brothers and it’s remained one of my favorite comfort movies to watch (the kind that I’ve seen so many times I can quote most of it). Not too long ago I rewatched the film for the first time in a long time and I thought I’d put down my thoughts on it.

The Blues Brothers is based on the comedy duo and titular band created by Dan Akroyd and the late John Belushi. They originally debuted their act on Saturday Night Live (yes, really) in 1976 before creating a rhythm and blues band (that you see in the film) that became so legitimately popular that the idea was spawned to create a movie about them.

The entire plot of the film borders on the ridiculous, but as it’s played completely straight it works! Here’s the plot in a nutshell: Jake (who’s just gotten out of prison) and Elwood Blues find themselves tasked by the Penguin (the nun who runs the orphanage they grew up in) to find $5000 to help bail out the orphanage or it will be closed down. Jake is inspired by a wild church service (led by James Brown) to get their old band back together and raise the money with a few concerts. Things quickly go sideways (Nazis, crazy ex-girlfriends, LOTS of cops), but as Elwood says “They’ll never catch us, we’re on a mission from God.”

I’m glossing over some details but the entire story is comedy gold as most of the film is one long, extended chase with musical interludes. The chase starts early on when Elwood gets nabbed for allegedly running a red light, and doesn’t fully stop until the final scene of the movie. And as the chase continues it gets bigger, and bigger, and funnier. By the end of the film, the Blues Brothers are being chased by (in no particular order): over a hundred cops, the Army, Nazis, a SWAT team, and a tank! It’s wild watching all of these forces gather to hunt down two guys who are legitimately trying to do the right thing for an orphanage but the way the film builds it up it just feels like the natural climax to everything that’s happened.

Yes, it’s true, there really are Nazis in this film by the way but don’t worry, they’re all portrayed as buffoons that no one likes. They all receive their comeuppance in glorious fashion (but not before they get their own chase segment with “Ride of the Valkyries” playing in the background, a sequence that never fails to get a laugh out of me).

And of course, I have to mention the great music that fills this movie. Every number is iconic and features so many musical greats: James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, just to name a few. Each song is so much fun to listen to (I love watching Aretha Franklin sing “Respect”), and very memorable. Of all the musical segments in this film, my absolute favorite is Cab Calloway’s rendition of “Minnie the Moocher.” It feels like a throwback to an earlier era of movies, which I think might be the point of the segment, but still, I love it. Of course, this film is also a reminder that most of these musical legends aren’t with us anymore (but that’s to be expected with a 40 year old film).

Also, I have to mention that I love that Carrie Fisher is in this movie. Growing up, it used to be the weirdest experience for me to see her in this film (because all I knew her from was Star Wars), so the first few times I saw her, I would always think “Why is Princess Leia in this film?” The way the film waits until late in the story to explain who she is and WHY she’s doing what she’s doing is just hysterically funny to me, because her actions feel like the most random of all until you get that explanation.

What I’m trying to say is that The Blues Brothers is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, and remains so 40 years after it first came out. You definitely need to see this film if you haven’t already.

Let me know what you think about The Blues Brothers in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: Casper (1995)

For the first time in perhaps, ever, I’ve decided to fully embrace the spirit of Halloween by watching (and reviewing) a number of “Halloween-ish” movies, many of which I haven’t watched in a long time (and some I haven’t watched at all). At the top of this list was Casper, a film I’ve watched many times over the years, but hadn’t seen in a while. I previously watched The Wicker Man and The Adventures of Ichabod Crane, but as I’ve already reviewed those films, I decided to start my coverage with Casper.

Casper, as the name implies, is based on the comic book character “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and expands on that character’s backstory. In this film, Casper lives at the condemned Whipstaff Manor (a gorgeous mansion that I would totally live at if it were real), along with his three ill-mannered (and disgusting) uncles: Stretch, Stinkie, and Fatso (I’ve never liked them). His lonely existence turns upside down when Kat (Christina Ricci) arrives with her father Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman) at the request of spoiled-brat-heiress Carrigan Crittenden (Cathy Moriarty), who wants the ghosts removed from the house so she can claim the “treasure” that supposedly lies inside.

For being 25 years old (yes, really!!) Casper holds up extremely well. The CGI is impressively convincing (especially when you consider this movie was made in 1995 with the appropriate level of technology). Casper, in particular, is very well done, even with an upgrade to the Blu-Ray format. I really enjoyed re-watching the scene where Casper makes breakfast for Kat. And the scene where human Casper dances with Kat is still one of my favorites.

The story of Casper is pretty entertaining too. It’s a cross between a comedy that borders on raunchy (with pretty much anything involving the Ghostly Trio) and a young teen comedy (for anything involving Kat and Casper). Except, of course, for the scenes that involve Casper’s death or that little detail where we find out Casper’s dad was locked up in an asylum when he was on the cusp of bringing his son back to life. There’s some definite mood whiplash in Casper, but it doesn’t distract from the quality of the film in the slightest.

Even knowing all that, I still forgot how emotional this movie is. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on here or not, but I lost my grandmother this summer, and as a result the scene where Dr. Harvey reunites with Amelia (albeit briefly) hits me in a completely different way than it ever did before. This is also helped along by James Horner’s gorgeous score, which is truly one of the highlights of the film. “Casper’s Lullaby” (that haunting melody you hear when Amelia appears or is referenced) legitimately makes me cry every time I hear it. And, on a slightly petty note, I was reminded how much I HATE Amber (that snobby blonde who doesn’t like Kat), and it is so satisfying when she gets what’s coming to her from the Ghostly Trio.

There are, however, two plot points that have always bothered me about this film, and I want to mention them here. First, it is heavily implied that Amelia is now an angel in Heaven. If that’s the case, how in the world do the Ghostly Trio know her, never mind have access to her? Amelia crossed over and didn’t become a ghost, so shouldn’t it be impossible for them to contact her period? Also, how unfair is it that Amelia appears to Casper and Dr. Harvey, but not Kat?? I kinda hope Kat never found out about this meeting because how would you feel if your untimely departed mother came back to Earth for one night and didn’t come see you?? Though, now that I think about it, maybe she didn’t have to because Kat had already made peace with her mother’s passing? It still bothers me though.

Other random notes:

-I love ALL of the stained glass in Whipstaff Manor, if I were independently wealthy I would totally build a house based on Whipstaff (secret passages and all).

-Carrigan’s comeuppance at the end of the film is so, so, SO satisfying. I’m positively gleeful when she gets tricked into crossing over.

-One other Carrigan note: it’s kinda scary how quickly she warms up to the idea of killing Dibs (she definitely has issues). Also, what kind of name is Carrigan??

-I’m pretty sure Dibs dies in this movie (the lawyer last seen being thrown out a window). After all, after he’s thrown through the window he’s never seen or heard from again.

In conclusion, I had a great time watching Casper again, and it will definitely be a regular part of my Halloween viewing lineup from here on out.

Let me know what you think about Casper in the comments below and have a great day!

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Soundtrack News: Netflix’s ‘Sneakerheads’ Original Soundtrack Available Now

Today Maya Records released Sneakerheads Original Music from the Netflix Series. The music for this series was composed by Haim Mazar with contributions by Paul Ottinger (aka knownwolf). Mazar’s film score credits include the biopic thriller ‘The Iceman’ – starring Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liota and James Franco, Adam Robitel’s critically acclaimed indie horror ‘The Taking of Deborah Logan,’ and action thriller ‘I Am Wrath’ – starring John Travolta and Christopher Meloni.

Haim Mazar used traditional film-scoring techniques along with Trap and Hip-Hop sensibilities and had the following to say about his work on Sneakerheads:

Hip-Hop influences have become increasingly popular in today’s film-music genre…this is definitely the first time I’ve ever done something like this, and hopefully not the last.

Allen Maldonado (Black-ish) stars in Sneakerheads, the new Complex Networks original production created by Jay Longino, who also serves as showrunner, and directed by famed music video director Dave Meyers:

 The series focuses on ex-sneakerhead Devin, played by Maldonado, a stay-at-home father who’s lured back into the game and is almost immediately placed $5,000 in the hole after an old friend—Bobby (played by Andrew Bachelor a.k.a. King Bach)—pulls a get-rich-quick scheme.

TRACK LISTING

01 Chip and a Chair
02 Bang This Left
03 Fire
04 Storage Wars
05 Auction
06 Jason Hoodak
07 Nori
08 The Zeroes
09 Flight Club
10 Red Octobers
11 Cubicle
12 Car Talk
13 Mark Wahlberg
14 The Convincer
15 GOAT
16 Towel Taunt
17 Tennis Camp
18 You About To See Nice
19 Black Panther
20 CSI Sandwich
21 Uncle Paulies
22 Cat Fight
23 Bad Girl
24 Tic Tac
25 Hong Kong Chase
26 Lil Rel
27 I Knew You Were Real
28 I’m Sorry
29 Fuck You Bobby BONUS TRACK
30 The Perfect Pair UNUSED BONUS TRACK
31 Bang Bang BONUS TRACK

You can purchase and download the official soundtrack for Sneakerheads now!

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Talking With Composer Ilan Eshkeri about Ghost of Tsushima (2020)

This past summer I had the tremendous opportunity to speak with composer Ilan Eshkeri about his score for the video game Ghost of Tsushima. Eshkeri attended Leeds University where he studied music and English literature. He also worked at this time with fellow composers Edward Shearmur and Michael Kamen. Notable film scores from his career include (but are far from limited to): Coriolanus (2011), The Young Victoria (2009), 47 Ronin (2013), and The White Crow (2018). He’s collaborated on several films with actor/director Ralph Fiennes.

How did you get started with being a composer?

Well, really I wanted to be a guitarist in a rock band. While pursuing that dream I ended up working for a composer and not long after became close to Michael Kamen. And then I got my first break writing film music. And I really enjoy having such an exciting career that developed from many different directions all at once. It takes me in all sorts of directions.

How did you get connected with Ghost of Tsushima?

Playstation actually reached out and contacted me about this game. I was initially reluctant because I don’t really like violent, action games, that’s not really my thing. I don’t have any great, moral objection to it, I just don’t know how I can connect emotionally to that. Or, as an artist what can I say about that in my music? What peaked my interest is they’d been using music from an art house film that I had done a few years ago, a Shakespeare film called Coriolanus. The score for it is, I think, very unusual, quite extreme and uncompromising. Typically my work with Ralph [Fiennes, the director] is like that. It was amazing to me that this mass entertainment AAA game and video game studio would be coming to me and referencing this extremely unusual art house music that I’d created.

Then I went to Seattle for a meeting with Playstation and they spent 45 minutes to an hour with this incredible multimedia presentation that talked me through the entire plot of the video game. By the end of that I was completely blown away and sucked into it. It wasn’t what I thought. This is a game about a young man who is in a state of emotional conflict because he has been brought up and trained in a certain moral code. However, in order to save his home and the people he loves he has to go against all of that. This was, therefore, a rich place to write emotional and powerful music.

Was it different, working on the score for a video game as opposed to film or television?

No, I don’t think so, because to me it’s all storytelling. It’s the oldest of human art forms. If we look back at the history of humanity, the earliest form of art we have is cave painting. What were they doing in a cave painting? They were telling a story. We moved from cave paintings to songs, the Iliad, the Odyssey, to theater. That developed into dance and acting with operas and plays; you have all these different forms of storytelling and in the last hundred years we’ve had cinema and that came from the invention of new technologies. Since then, the next step in my eyes is video games. A new technology was invented and humans decided to tell their stories through that medium. And the story of Ghost is about the new ways versus the old ways. So really, Ghost is telling a very old story but through a new medium. To answer your question, my job is exactly the same. I tell the emotional narrative of the story through the creation of music. Whether that be theater or ballet or video games, whatever the medium, eventually I’m doing the same thing.

How did you approach scoring Ghost of Tsushima? Was there a lot of research involved in the type of music and sounds that would be appropriate for such a locale and era?

Yes, absolutely. This was inspired by Sucker Punch, they wanted to bring a sense of authenticity to the game, to the extent that they got reeds from the island of Tsushima in order to make it look more naturalistic. I was inspired by this search for authenticity and I wanted to apply the same thing to the music. I found a professor of Japanese music, Professor David Hughes, who is fortunately one of the leading experts here in London and he was very kind to talk to me and explain things and tell me where to look. I was learning about Japanese scales and harmony and how the instruments worked. Then I worked with a lot of amazing musicians and they inspired me a lot. These musicians were very patient and taught me how to write naturalistic music for the instruments.

So I used a lot of instruments that we know here in the West, like the koto and shakuhachi. But my explorations also took me to another instrument called the biwa. In fact it’s called the Satsuma biwa, there being several types of biwas, but the Satsuma biwa was the instrument that the samurai learned to play. And I’d never heard of it before. What happened is that towards the middle of the last century, the art of playing the biwa had been virtually lost. As I understand it there was one master of this instrument left and had taught a handful of people. One of those is a very inspiring lady called Junko Ueda. And she, fortunately for me, lived in Spain so it was easy to get her to come to London. She spent a lot of time explaining about the instrument, she played a lot and you can really hear about the instrument solos in the opening of the piece on the album. She’s a special performer and I was really lucky to be able to include her on the soundtrack.

When was it decided to blend the sounds of traditional Japanese music with a full orchestra?

That was always the plan. The thing was, how do we keep the focus on the traditional Japanese instruments, how do we highlight them? And for me, how do I use the orchestra within that language? All of the music in the orchestra, all the melodies and scales are all based on Japanese scales and I used two of those. And any Japanese instrument could play virtually any orchestral part. I also built my own system of chords using the notes from the pentatonic (five tone) scale. Everything in the orchestra is based on a foundation of Japanese tonality. Where I needed to, for effect, I broke the rules absolutely, but not often. That was the plan behind the orchestra.

How much time did you have to score Ghost of Tsushima? Did you have any game footage to work off of? Or was it more like storyboards?

There was a mixture, because I came on in 2018. When I started working on it there were storyboards, bits of footage. There was some crude gameplay where I got a feel for the character. It was a lot of different things, many bits of inspirational material. I worked on the game on and off for about a year and a half.

I’d like to give a big thank you to Ilan Eshkeri for taking the time to speak with me about his work on the music for Ghost of Tsushima.

Let me know what you think about Ghost of Tsushima’s music (and the game itself) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: Ghost of Tsushima (2020)

Composer Interviews

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Soundtrack Review: Enola Holmes (2020)

Milan Records today releases ENOLA HOLMES (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX FILM) with music by award-winning composer Daniel Pemberton (Birds of PreySpider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse).  Available everywhere now, the album features music from Netflix’s newest mystery film starring Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, Fiona Shaw and Louis Partridge with Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham Carter.   Based on the series of young adult novels written by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes will premiere on Netflix Wednesday, September 23

Daniel Pemberton is a multi-Golden Globe, Emmy and BAFTA Award-nominated composer who has been regularly cited as one of the most exciting and original new voices working in modern film scoring today. Constantly working with some of the most renowned names in the industry Pemberton has already scored projects for the likes of Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs, Yesterday), Ridley Scott (All The Money In The World, The Counsellor), Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game, The Trial Of The Chicago 7), Darren Aronofsky (One Strange Rock), Edward Norton (Motherless Brooklyn) and Guy Ritchie (The Man From UNCLE, King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword).

Of the soundtrack, composer Daniel Pemberton has this to say:

“It’s been a real joy to write music for Enola Holmes and to go back to writing some unashamedly melodic and emotional orchestral music – coupled with a nice level of messy quirky oddness thrown in as well. From my first meeting with Harry Bradbeer the director, we talked about trying to create a score full of themes, mystery and surprise that both encapsulated her character but also took you on her journey. I hope this soundtrack allows anyone listening to it to re-live the first amazing adventures of one Enola Holmes…”

This soundtrack is, without a doubt, an incredible adventure to listen to, hardly surprising given that Daniel Pemberton is one of my favorite film composers. A lot of the music is bright and bouncy, and I’m fairly certain I’ve identified Enola’s specific theme within the score. It recurs frequently throughout, which is why I’m so certain it belongs to Enola. Also, it’s a short motif that skips and jumps around, much like the titular character who is free spirited and doesn’t act in a traditional “ladylike” manner.

I was actually surprised to hear how dark the soundtrack gets in places, there are a few places (I won’t name any track titles because I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything) where the music gets quite ominous. Though in hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised, this IS the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes after all, no doubt trouble finds Enola all the time.

And, true to form with Daniel Pemberton’s work, I’m delighted to report that the soundtrack for Enola Holmes is filled with all kinds of non-traditional sounds. My personal favorite has to be “Tick Tock”, so named because the music is framed around, that’s right, the ticking of clocks. I like the entire soundtrack, but this piece immediately stuck in my mind the moment it began, and I love how the composer is interweaving the tick-tock of a clock and the “clip-clop” of shoes walking across a floor with more traditional instruments (the most hair-raising strings I’ve heard in months) to create something so mind-bending I’m dying to know its full context in the film. I should note, you can hear unusual sounds in other portions of the soundtrack, but “Tick Tock” really does stick out from the rest.

I sadly won’t be able to watch Enola Holmes until this weekend, but listening to this soundtrack has me more than excited to check the movie out on Netflix.

When Enola Holmes—Sherlock’s teen sister—discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, becoming a super-sleuth in her own right as she outwits her famous brother and unravels a dangerous conspiracy around a mysterious young Lord.

The soundtrack for Enola Holmes is available now, and you can also (as of today) check the film itself out on Netflix.

Let me know what you think about the soundtrack for Enola Holmes in the comments below and have a great day!

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Soundtrack News: Soundtrack Album for Netflix Original Series ‘Away’ Available Now

Back Lot Music has digitally released an album from the Netflix Original Series Away (produced by Universal Television) by composer Will Bates (I OriginsAnother Earth). The sci-fi drama’s score is full of electronic atmospheric soundscapes with an intense emotional undercurrent. Bates takes listeners on a beautifully diverse sonic journey with this 22-track album.

Will Bates has scored a number of television series: Golden Globe & Emmy-nominated Netflix series Unbelievable, SyFy’s hit The Magicians, Hulu’s The PathChance and The Looming Tower, the Hilary Swank-led drama Away for Netflix, as well as NBC’s Rise. Other projects include Sweetbitter on Starz, the George R.R. Martin series Nightflyers on Netflix, and the Hulu biographical documentary Hillary. Will’s recent features include Michael Tyburski’s The Sound of Silence, the HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, and the horror-thriller Depraved. Upcoming features include Michael Haussman’s Rajah set in 19th century Borneo, Mike Cahill’s Bliss and Alex Gibney’s Crazy, Not Insane.

Regarding the music for Away, Will Bates had the following to say:

“I had an amazing experience scoring Away. Having worked with the showrunners on several projects together before, including The Path and Rise, there was already a shared language and a real mutual sense of trust…Sharing that explorer’s sense of wonder and aspiration, space itself can be something of an exciting blank canvas for a composer. And the showrunners were always keen to try something a little different. I found myself experimenting with all sorts of unusual instrumentation; from dulcimers, prepared pianos and dusty old parlor organs to modular synths, timpani and manipulated live strings. Identifying the human themes whilst capturing the vast distances of space. And of course, having one of the lead actor’s play pieces I’d written for him was thrilling in its own right,”

TRACKLISTING
01 Lunar Base Alpha
02 The Atlas Crew
03 I Love You Shithead
04 Launch
05 Making My Way Back To You
06 Reaching For Mars
07 How’s The View?
08 Calligraphy
09 Cracking Up
10 Spacewalk
11 Open The Hatch
12 I Just Need My Wife
13 Going Home
14 Anything Is Possible
15 I Need You To Go
16 Etude De Main Droit
17 Ice Harvest
18 Last Words
19 Forgetting
20 Descent
21 Anyone Wanna Go Again?
22 Atlas

You can enjoy the soundtrack album for Netflix’s Away now 🙂

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Dune “Main Theme” (1984)

With the Denis Villeneuve adaptation of Dune on the way, it only makes sense that I’d have all things “Dune” on the brain as of late, and that includes the music of the 1984 film that did its best but ultimately fell short of being a satisfying adaptation. Despite its flaws, I maintain that the 1984 adaptation of Dune is a fairly satisfying film, not least because of its musical score from Toto and Brian Eno.

One of my favorite musical moments in Dune is the main theme, which opens the story and recurs at pivotal moments. Take a moment and listen to the main theme of Dune below:

I love this theme because of how effective it is. It’s a simple enough melody but by thrumming up in the strings and brass it communicates the idea of power and growing tension, both themes that can be found throughout the story of Dune (as controlling Arrakis and the spice grants power and there’s unending tension between the Atreides/Fremen and the Harkonnens throughout the story).

It also, as I said before, recurs at pivotal moments throughout the film, and I’ll look at two of those moments as examples. The first example comes when Paul is summoning a sandworm for the Fremen. The theme begins when the massive sandworm is first seen rising up from the endless dunes. The placement of the music and visual image is pretty brilliant here, as the music rises up in conjunction with the worm, really making you feel the appearance of shai-hulud (the Fremen name for sandworms).

Notably, the main theme continues in a higher register once Paul has control of the sandworm, ending on a triumphant tone as the scene ends. This is one of my favorite scenes in the entire movie, and it’s all because of this wonderful music.

The second example I’d like to look at is at the end of the film, when Paul demonstrates his power as the Kwisatz Haderach. As Paul exerts all his power to cause rain to fall on Arrakis, the main theme recurs yet again. Now, instead of the sandworm’s power being highlighted, it’s Paul and his power that we’re being drawn to by the music. He’s doing something that no human has ever done before, he’s causing rain to fall on a desert planet that likely hasn’t seen a rainstorm in a hundred generations, if ever. It’s set up as a fairly powerful moment and I feel the music is what makes it so. Check it out below:

Now, unlike the first example with the sandworm, this example uses the music in an entirely different way. The scene with the sandworm almost vibrated with raw power. Here, at the end of the film as Paul assumes absolute power, the music assumes a higher register, even including a choir at one point to highlight the awesomeness of what Paul is doing. This is a profound moment, so the music, though the melody is the same, has to be that much different to carry the point across to the audience. This is the ultimate expression of the main theme, nothing will ever surpass this (or at least that’s the intention).

Yes, it’s true, Dune has many, MANY flaws, but the music is not one of them, as I hope these examples with the main theme show. I really believe this score is underrated and should be given more attention. I hope you enjoyed listening to some examples of Dune’s main theme.

Let me know what you think about the main theme of Dune in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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Soundtrack News: ‘The Nest’ Original Soundtrack Available September 18th

Milan Records has announced that the original motion picture soundtrack for The Nest (composed by Richard Reed Parry) will be released on September 18th, 2020. Available for preorder now, the album features music written by Parry for the thriller and marks Parry’s debut feature film score as solo composer.

Of the soundtrack for The Nest, composer RICHARD REED PARRY has this to say:

“When I watched the very first rough cut of The Nest without any music, I could feel right away what I wanted the score to be: Music that sounded like it was written and played somewhere within the massive old manor house that so much of the film centers around… I am very grateful to my fantastic musical collaborators, and for Sean Durkin’s trust in my own intuitive musical process and the artistic space and freedom he gave me to explore the musical landscape of his film.”

“Long before Richard was the composer for the film I was listening to his Music for Heart and Breath album while writing the script, so for him to come on to the project was very exciting for me,” adds The Nest director SEAN DURKIN. “It’s been an incredible collaboration working with him. He’s created a stunning score that captures the atmosphere and emotion I wanted the film to encompass.”

In The Nest, Rory (Jude Law), an ambitious entrepreneur and former commodities broker, persuades his American wife, Allison (Carrie Coon), and their children to leave the comforts of suburban America and return to his native England during the 1980s. Sensing opportunity, Rory rejoins his former firm and leases a centuries-old country manor, with grounds for Allison’s horses and plans to build a stable. Soon the promise of a lucrative new beginning starts to unravel, the couple have to face the unwelcome truths lying beneath the surface of their marriage.

THE NEST (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)

TRACKLISTING – 

1. Drone Beast
2. Symphony Brew
3. Base Motives 
4. Murky Half
5. What We’ve Always Wanted
6. Base Motives II
7. New Descent
8. The House
9. Dark Tumbling
10. Drone Beast: UK
11. Symphony Brew Redux
12. Slow Descent
13. Drone Beast: In the Air


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