There are scores which you don’t really grasp unless you understand musical theory. There are some scores which mystify, confound and defy description. And then there are some score that just are and I stumbled across one today. Gold Coast [Guldkysten] is a Danish film directed by Daniel Dencik and is the harrowing story of romantic visionary Wulff who in 1836 travels to Africa to create plantations on the Gold Coast. Despite his good intentions he is quickly confronted with the harsh reality of the slave trade and it’s unbelievable brutality.
I had not heard of the film or the score until I listened to it today. In fact I listened to it 3 times in a row to take it all in, this is a soundtrack which will burn into your senses. It is scored by Angelo Badalamenti with Masse Martunussen and Johan Caroe. Whilst I have always appreciated Badalamenti’s work I have not been an ardent fan of his and yes there are seconds when you can hear Twin Peaks but don’t let this put you off as here his continuous stream of ambient low notes works big time. I usually cringe when I see more than one composer listed but these three composers work as a team and apart from spotting Badelamenti’s touch, the score is both fluid and wondrous. They were all working off the same hymn sheet as it were. How they thought a synth driven score would work in a film set in 1836 is beyond me but they have and it is a core not to be missed.
I had a purely emotional reaction to this score and didn’t even want to think about the construction of it, I just wanted to immerse myself in it. Saying that I can tell you that in parts it is sparse and in places it swells. It is odd and it’s beautiful in equal measure and it makes you want to see the movie. Two cues of note – Ascension starts slow then with heavy organ it rises till you think you can’t take it anymore and Entry will simply blow your mind.
Ascension (Angelo Badalementi & Lasse Martinussen)
Love Suite (Johan Carøe)
Entry (Lasse Martinussen & Johan Caroe)
The Jungle (Angelo Badalementi & Lasse Martinussen)
Serenade / The Children (Johan CarOe)
Horror (Lasse Martinussen)
The Party (Angelo Badalementi & Lasse Martinussen)
Genesis (Angelo Badalementi & Johan Caroe)
The Escape (Johan Caroe)
Remember Me (Kwamie Liv & Angelo Badalementi)
Released by Fake Diamond Records Available at amazon.co.uk
Every good word you have heard about The Revenant is deserved. It was almost an out-of-movie experience especially as you felt the cold and recoiled at the first arrow speedily entering through the Adam’s apple through to the back of the neck. But there are several moments when this poem to the landscape revealed it’s true self. These moments, for me, are part of the ‘immersive’ aspect of this film which is referred to in reviews and interviews. It’s down to the dogged direction of Alejandro G. Iñárritu who gave us a glimpse of his style in Birdman. I didn’t enjoy Birdman, his technique and the setting made it very claustrophobic which was obviously intended but for me it was a difficult watch. Here in the harshness and beauty of the great outdoors Iñárritu had the perfect canvas for his vision as did his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki [Birdman, Gravity, Children of Men].
Moment No.1 is seen many times in movies and it usually distracts me. The camera is behind an actor who is looking on a high ledge looking into the sun, the camera is pointing to what the actor can see. A lens flare occurs where a neat line of 3 or 4 dots bouncing off the sun onto the lens can be seen. It often happens in movies, a trivial thing but here, even though I did notice it, it did not take me ‘out of the film’. It enhanced the surrounding beauty which we were viewing and almost makes you put you hand over your eyes to shield the strong light.
Moment No.2 This is somewhat similar and perhaps another avoidable occurrence, something that perhaps another director would have rectified or was it that shooting was very much in the hands of the weather and the light that there was not another chance to re-do it. There was a scene where snow fell on the camera lens. Again it happens in other movies but here it made be feel colder almost tho the extent that I wanted shelter even though I had it.
Moment No.3 DiCaprio is is the ground crawling in agony due to his horrendous injuries. The camera is on exactly the same level as him and directly in front of him. Glass, DiCaprio’s part, is fighting for every breath he can breath. It’s painful and each breath gets longer and deeper than the last to the degree where his breath touches the camera lens and eventually it covers the entire frame. It was the most natural fade out from a scene at a point where you don’t know of he is going to live or die.
Moment No.4 This one I am sure was an accident but surely one which there was a decision to keep or not. In one of the fights Glass is struck in the face with a vicious looking knife, as the actor pulls away DiCaprio has a slash on his cheek and there is also a smattering of blood splashed onto the camera lens making you feel totally immersed in the fight.
Moment No.5 And this was totally manufactured [‘thought out ‘sounds better]. It’s the last scene where DiCaprio has succeeded in his mission and survived yet again. He looks all up at the sky, all around him and then stares defiantly straight into the camera almost as if to say ‘I am still here”. It’s the perfect ending.
Trivial as these five things may seem and regardless if manufactured or natural, they have stuck in my mind and perhaps meant more than they should but in this remarkable movie they enhanced my experience of it. Made it more real.
Will Poulter talking about Iñárritu’s directorial style,
It’s A Hell Of A Chase/Michael Giacchino/Jupiter Ascending
Arriving At The Temple/Dario Marinanelli/Everest
Twisted Nerve – Title Track/Bernard Hermmann/Twisted Nerve
Hall of Trade Unions – Moscow/Thomas Newman/ Bridge of Spies
Rain/Thomas Newman/Bridge of Spies
Christmas Story Doris Day/P Walsh/Moonlight Bay
Theme To Puppet On A Chain/Piero Piccioni/Puppet On a Chain
The Prophet/Gabriel Jared/The Prophet
The Egg Godfather/Zacarius M De La Riva/Gallo Con Muchas Huevos
Melancholia/Johann Johannsson /Sicario
Operation Christmas/Harry Gregson Williams/Arthur Christmas
Before It’s Too Late/Piero Piccioni/From The Orient With Fury
Dartmoor 1912/John Williams/War Horse
Return To the Wild/James Hormer/Wolf Totem
Mission Rome/Daniel Pemberton/The Man From Uncle
Main Tile – Texas Adios/Anton Garcia Abril/Don Powell/Texas Adios
The Shadow Chase/Michael Giacchino/Jupiter Ascending
The Trouble With Angels – Main Title/Jerry Goldsmith The/Trouble With Angels
Opening/Craig Armstrong/Far From The Madding Crowd
The Jedi Steps and the Finale/John Williams/Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Nope not a typo, first day back at work and luckily I am working at home meaning I get to listen to Soundtracks whilst working. As a member of the IMFCA we will shortly be starting our voting process for the Best Soundtracks of 2015 over several categories.
It’s exciting but it also means that we all have to be ‘up-to-date’ with Soundtracks listens and I have to tell you that 2015 seemed the busiest year ever in Soundtrack Land! I recently read that 50 films a month were released in the UK during last year, and it felt like it.
As much as I love films and film soundtracks this bothers me somewhat. It’s a question of quality … does the overflow mean that something has to give like the quality of a film? And as for scores there has been a fair bit of derivation [or …I have heard this before]. In the end though it does make the excellent scores stand out even more but my thoughts are that I would rather wait a bit longer to see a movie and hear it’s score if it’s going to be great than swim through hurried music which lap the shores.
As soon as I have done my voting with other IFMCA members I will publish my list here which should be in a few weeks time. Until then my ears are getting a full workout!