Probably the two most affecting
aspects of a film are its look and the music that is chosen
to accompany that visual aspect. The cinematographer is responsible
for the former - not, as some believe, the director - the
composer is responsible for the latter. But in the case of
the movie World Trade Center both had to be balanced
just right or the film would have devolved into bathos or
patriotic hysteria — of which both director Oliver Stone is
eminently capable. However, by the time you read this, World
Trade Center should have already seen both its American
and European release dates. Word is that Mr. Stone balances
all of the possible emotions one can feel about the events
of September 11th in an extraordinary, and perhaps
even understated manner. The movie is a powerful document
of the heroism of two average police officers of the NYPD
who rise to the call of duty on that fateful day.
In World Trade Center,
Stone focuses on the two officers, played by Nicholas Cage
and Michael Peña and their wives, played by Maria Bello and
Maggie Gyllenhaal. The music on this disc doesn’t waver much
in depicting the heartfelt emotion Stone conjures for these
protagonists as the day unfolds. The music is quite melancholy
and evocative of just about everything everyone felt that
day (except for anger and rage), particularly in relation
to those who had gone to the rescue and were still lost in
the white haze and pulverized remains of several buildings
and nearly three-thousand human beings.
The score revolves around a simple
theme, opening with the cello; the piece is then repeated
a couple more times with the piano as the solo instrument.
The disc also has a few moments of coloratura soprano and
an ethereal background choir. Again, this is mostly for mood.
This is very beautiful music, even though it’s all of a piece.
I am not familiar with Craig Armstrong as a composer of film
music — right now he seems to have much in common with James
Newton Howard - but I can imagine that years from now, a small
suite of pieces from this music might be cobbled together
lasting, perhaps, twelve to fifteen minutes. This is the downside
of sound-track CDs that have to fill at least 60 minutes’
worth of music in order to be marketable.
To give credit where credit is
due, this disc can be played over and over again. The music
never becomes too melancholic and indeed has flights of drama
particularly in “The Drive Downtown” when the two officers
become aware of what’s just befallen their city. Very powerful
stuff — and it helped Oliver Stone get everything absolutely