The ‘Introduction’ is a dark, dramatic choral piece, a device
also used to open Michael Kamen’s The Three Musketeers, but in much the
same way this is misleading in musical terms as what follows is more melodic
and sprightly, as indicated by the frenetic energy of ’Landing on Elba’. The
score’s central theme is first introduced in ‘Marseille’, a pleasing motif that
reappears at the conclusion of the effectively austere ‘Escape From the Island’,
as well as in low-key, emotional form on ‘After the Party’ and in a more sumptuous
version on the ‘End Titles’. Beyond this there are several sturdy atmospheric
cues like ‘Betrayed’ and ‘Chateau D’If’ and generally speaking the emphasis
is more on suspense rather than action, although there are of course occasional
bursts of adrenaline on ‘Finding the Treasure’ and ‘Involving Albert’, plus
the lively gaiety of ‘An Invitation to the Ball’.
With this accomplished score Ed Shearmur continues to establish
himself as an intelligent, gifted composer quite capable of rising to the top
ranks. Although at times he does sound reminiscent of several leading practitioners
of the art of film music, he cleverly manages to create something fresh from
amidst these influences and there is enough versatility and verve in his approach
to keep things interesting.
An entertaining, melodic work with much to recommend it.
Gary S. Dalkin adds -
From the dark and menacing choral grandeur over slow building
percussion of the opening "Landing on Elba", rather more than a period adventure
such as The Count of Monte Christo, Edward Shearmur's score suggests
a stark foreboding akin to Elliot Goldenthal's Alien3. Moments
of such brooding atmospherics continue to arise through a score - most of "Chateau
D'If" could be an outtake from the science fiction film - which as it settles
down does become more in the expected romantic vein, the portrait of "Marseille"
having a similar autumnal-impressionistic character to much of the composer's
score for The Wings of the Dove. That said, the opening of "Abbe Feria"
sounds startlingly like music from Jerry Goldsmith's original Alien score,
and one wonders what was used to temp track this movie -the remainder of the
piece then unfolds as a gentle dance-like theme for harp. Elsewhere there is
an urgent balletic quality to the brief "Edmond's Education" and a playfully
angular drive to "Training Montage". Cues such as "Betrayed" enable Shearmur
to combine rhythmically propulsive suspense underscoring with an explosion of
brassy fire in the grand Hollywood tradition and more modernistic colours, which
are either electronic or achieved by unusual instrumental techniques. The booklet
is silent regarding the use of synthesisers and samplers and likewise it fails
to mention any choir.
A score which becomes more impressive with repeated playing,
this is a long way removed from the swashbuckling adventure one might expect,
with even the finale, "Retribution" offering far more suspenseful enquiry than
outright explosiveness. The overriding impression I am left with is that anyone
who enjoyed Trevor Jones music for
might find this worth investigating, and that Edward Shearmur should be put
on the shortlist of candidates to score the next Alien movie. His fine
"End Titles" even have a similar calm triumph to that Goldsmith brought to the
conclusion of the original entry in the series.
Gary S Dalkin