Score-ally Yours, Part III: Atonement

Upon going over my list of favorite film scores, I quickly discovered that you really cannot write cogently about the music belonging to a film that you’ve never seen.  I can’t, anyway, so I trimmed my list and will reveal the discarded titles at the end of this little series.  As Barney Stinson would say, “Wait for it…”.

In the meantime, however, I’m happily writing about award-winning composer Dario Marianelli and his clever, artful and compelling score to the film Atonement.  Set in WWII-era England, the film stars James McAvoy (sigh) and Keira Knightley as ill-fated lovers Robbie and Cecilia.  As a card-carrying member of The Book Was Better Society, I will say that I found the movie quite depressing and enjoyed Ian McEwan’s novel more only because you simply cannot replicate the intricacy of an author’s artistic hand and mind in a movie.  Nonetheless, the score made a lasting impression.

I’ve picked the movement “Briony” to focus on because it showcases Marianelli’s inventiveness at weaving together note and plot.  The opening measures don’t feature instruments at all- you hear the delicate, earnest clink of typewriter keys, which then meander their way through the rest of the few minutes in a percussive form before neatly polishing off the piece with a swipe and a tearing off of paper.

I was so struck by this because The Typewriter is an integral character in the movie. Robbie’s fervent lines to Cecilia, dashed off with impassioned anticipation and never meant for the eyes of conniving younger sister Briony, caused the cascading string of events that forever changed both their lives.  I love how Marianelli decided to use typewriter keys as an instrument and giving them a very unique spotlight.  The entire piece is very hurried and staccato, portraying just the right sense of urgency.  It’s delightful and a bit mysterious.  Enjoy!


Score-ally Yours, Part II: Dances With Wolves

Having spent a little bit of time on horseback in the Absaroka Mountains/Shoshone National Park part of Wyoming, I tell you with unbridled (pun intended) passion that there is NOTHING like being under an endless sky, in velvet quiet, surrounded by nature. Nothing.  If everyone could experience that, Big Pharma would be out of business.  It was a life-changing experience for me, and one that my husband and I still talk about with regularity some five years later.

That said, when I’m in such places I often wish that the appropriate film score was pouring forth from an invisible orchestra, just to engrave the memory upon my brain a little more deeply.  Today’s selection is in honor of America’s wilderness and our Reveling cousin David, because this is his favorite movie of all time.  I should also note that my Sibling and I believe heartily in the conservation of wolves and Native American culture and history.

English composer John Barry wrote the compelling score for Dances With Wolves and won a well-deserved Academy Award for his work.  Like my beloved Ralph Vaughan Williams, Barry was noted for his liberal use of lush strings.  I like that he would watch films before composing a score, therefore really allowing the music to be molded to and woven into the storyline.

“The John Dunbar Theme” perfectly captures the exhilarating feeling of being out on the American plains.  It’s romantic and contemplative, stirring up the spicy scent of sagebrush and the feeling of the wind at your back. I hope you will enjoy listening to it as much as I do.

Score-ally Yours, Part I: Hook

Friends, Revelers, countrymen, lend me your ears!  I’m taking a brief detour from classical music proper to write about its distant favorite cousin: film scores!  Besides, my Sibling and I have filled the classical music blogosphere so thoroughly that there’s really not much more we can cover.  Just kidding…we’re gonna need a bigger blog.

When I was little, I wanted desperately to be able to fly.  I’d be lying if I said a little remnant of that wish weren’t still with me today.  I can still remember having those classic flying dreams, swooping around my house in a state of gravity-free bliss.  Loving the Disney and Broadway adaptations of Peter Pan did little to bring me back to reality.

It’s fitting, then, that the other day “Flight To Neverland” from the Spielberg movie Hook came on Pandora and it honestly took my breath away.  I love that movie, but I hadn’t thought about it or its music in so long.  John Williams is always spot-on when it comes to “flying music” (e.g. E.T.) but this part of his Hook score is exceptional.  I’ve mentioned in other posts how in awe I am of composers who are able to shape and mold black and white notes into emotions.  This music literally soars, and after hearing “Flight To Neverland”, I was transformed for a good while into that kid who flew in her dreams.

I’m not going to dissect this to pieces, because doing so takes away from the magic. Take five minutes and listen to “Flight To Neverland”, because I promise you it’s WONDERFUL.  I love it!!!