RED JOAN -George Fenton

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After being somewhat confused with Fenton’s enjoyable score to Cold Pursuit and then seeing the film, which is categorised by IMBD as an action crime drama thriller (missing out the actual black comedy element) – I understood the scores tone and liked it even more. And here we are, after a long Fenton drought, with a second score in the same year.

Red Joan is the true story of Joan Stanley, a Soviet and Communist sympathiser recruited by the KGB in the thirties. She was undetected for many years and was finally charged with treason when a senior citizen.

Much has been written about this being a wide ‘dramatisation’ of the true story but here I want to highlight the score which is masterfully composed by Fenton who has such a sprawling canvas of work including composer and musical director with the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, TV work and of course film soundtracks including The Company of Wolves, Dangerous Liaisons and The Lady In The Van.

Red Joan is an accomplished score, each cue fitting the whole, weaving throughout with emotions of fear, intrigue and pockets of regret. Starting with Red Joan Theme-Prelude which ambles along with a short piano refrain with an added tinge of defiance of what was done, is done. The refrain expands in the following cue You’re Under Arrest slowly but as realisation creeps in low dark notes appear and in Restraining Order there is such a delicate lightness of touch in the composition, it’s quite beautiful.

The swirling refrain is cleverly repeated in most of the short cues but with the slightest of change which never compromises the intensity of the score. It may not soar or have a memorable theme but this is NOT a soundtrack to be underestimated.

“I regard Red Joan as a personal score – by which I mean personal to the character of Joan My aim was to find a tonal language that sat well with the story of Joan in the 1930s but which never lost the sense of the story being told and remembered by the older Joan. A balance between the immediacy of young Joan’s experience and old Joan’s recollections. My hope is that even when heard away from the film that the music evokes the narrative of this extraordinary story.” George Fenton

TRACK LIST

1 Red Joan Theme (Prelude) 0:45
2 You’re Under Arrest 2:47
3 Back to Cambridge 2:45
4 The Ghost of Matter 2:22
5 My Little Comrade 2:01
6 The Tower 1:57
7 Restraining Order 2:16
8 Good at Drawing 2:43
9 Leo’s Arrest 1:13
10 Chadwick’s Arrival 1:58
11 Making Land Tomorrow 1:39
12 Maybe One Day 2:08
13 The University 2:33
14 Hiroshima 2:25
15 Agent Lotto 1:54
16 Inspection 2:27
17 The Locket 1:50
18 Photo Secrets 2:23
19 Leo’s Destiny 2:54
20 Special Branch 1:49
21 Two Copies 1:25
22 I’m Not a Traitor 1:56
23 Max In Jail 2:47
24 End Titles 5:16
25 Red Joan Theme (Postlude) 0:40

Label: Movie Score Media

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