November 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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RECOMMENDED November 2002

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Paul GIOVANNI
The Wicker Man  
  Silva Screen FILMCD 330   [39:30]
Crotchet   Amazon UK   Amazon US

wicker man

Christopher Lee is extremely generous in saying: "it is probably the best music I've ever heard in a film." Over the years he's been very vocal on the subject of his admiration for the film and his disapproval of its editing and distribution. Now that a Special Edition DVD has come out presenting the film as originally intended, this complete album must make Lee and fellow champions very pleased indeed. I too adore the film. I'm also extremely partial to the use of this music in the film. But no, it's not the bet music ever written. It just happens to be one of the most brilliantly effective uses.

Songs in films can be a disastrous method of narrative supplement. Unless you're an all-out Musical, or a spoof comedy crossing genre boundaries, then I'm almost exclusively against the idea of songs being sung in film. The self-contained universe of The Wicker Man is perfectly suited to its jolly outbursts however. In fact, there's only one Musical-like moment when Britt Eckland mimes "Willow's Song". Giovanni's songs transcend mere narrative supplement and become an enigmatic character all their own in amongst the mystery of Summerisle. By the time of "Sumer Is A-Cumen In" the full horror of that character is as frightening as the rapturous yet detached manner in which its being sung.

The film's songs frequently eclipse mention of the score proper, and that's a shame. From the deliberately misleading "Opening Music" through to the last "Sunset", Giovanni's underscore is just as subtly affecting on the viewer as the ditties. And now that this music has finally been unearthed from its previously supposed hopelessly lost state, it can be appreciated in all its restored glory. There's a terrific story as to what has happened to the tapes of this score over the years. Instead of repeating it here, I encourage you to read it for yourself inside the colourful and sumptuous booklet. Silva's packaging of this release is exceptional by the way. 

Paul Tonks

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