This current release is an Oscar promo disc of the score for the acclaimed drama starring Charlize Theron as real life serial killer Aileen Wuornos. According to the promotional material (reproduced in full beneath this review) "The entire score was conceived and recorded completely in 5.1 surround sound. An extended 5.1 mix of the score featuring over two hours of original music, will be released on DVD in early 2004 by DTS Entertainment, and will include special audio and video enhancements not available anywhere else." Releasing soundtracks on 5.1 DVD audio discs sounds like a sensible direction for film music issues to take in the future, overcoming the 80 minute maximum running length problem of CDs, as well as allowing multi-channel recordings to be heard the way they were designed for the cinema. However, in this particular case one balks as to what might be included on a 120 minute plus version, as at 70 minutes the music long outstays its welcome.
Let's just to traditionally English, middle-aged and old fashioned for a moment, and point out that people who decide to be known purely by their initials are generally not taken seriously on this side of the Atlantic. And though it's a cultural thing, one is further not likely to be taken seriously for sharing those initials with one of the most disliked companies in the UK, the much reviled telecommunications giant BT (British Telecom); anyone in America fancy a film score by AT&T?
BT (the film composer) is short for Brian Transeau, who made his feature debut with Go (1999), and has since scored Under Suspicion (2000), Driven (2001) and The Fast and The Furious (2001), as well as providing additional music for Gone In 60 Seconds (2000). His work here is wearily monothematic, and while the melody is an affecting one everything here is protracted much too far.
"Ferris Wheel (Theme)" introduces the central melody which begins quietly, gradually building into an attractive melancholy soft rock anthem with piano, acoustic guitar, drums, bass, percussion and ambient electronics, before meandering on in a very low key way for a good three minutes past the climax to finally clock in at an excessive 11 minutes.
The press material says "his score for Monster blends roots Americana-like organic, melodic sensibilities and non-traditional acoustic instrumentation to garner a complex, powerful and darkly beautiful sequence of music." Which is to say a vielle à roué / Hurdy Gurdy sometimes takes the melody and the writing often resembles a modern left-field country rock band jamming in the studio on a promising new riff while waiting for the singer to turn-up. "Childhood Montage (Title Sequence)" does offer an eloquent lullaby like variation on the main theme, but it is a rare exception in an unexceptional score; the sort of work one finds attached to all too many low budget documentaries at the moment.
Essentially the album offers various incarnations of the Ferris Wheel theme, some more intense than others, sometimes with the lead being taken by fuzzy electric guitar. In-between there are assorted mood music segments which hold little compositional interest and hark back, if anywhere, to the ambient music developed by Brian Eno in the 1970's. Cut down to 10 minutes on a compilation album, there is at least an evocative theme here. At 70 minutes the material is stretched beyond reason. The threatened two hour plus version suggests massive self-indulgence and pretension.
BT COMPOSES THE HAUNTING ORIGINAL SCORE FOR THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED THRILLER MONSTER
Starring Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci,
Monster Opens in New York and Los Angeles in December
Los Angeles, CA (December 11, 2003)- BT has created a seductive and original score for director Patty Jenkin's debut feature film Monster. Thescore features performances by BT, Richard Fortus (guitar), SterlingCampbell and Bryan "Brain" Mantia (drums) and Ben Grossman on vielle à roué (aka Hurdy Gurdy), among others. Starring Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci, Monster is a shockingly moving film that burrows deep beneath the
tabloid-sized headline stories on Aileen Wuornos (Theron), the drifter prostitute executed last year in Florida for murdering seven men. The film hits theaters in New York and Los Angeles this December and opens nationwide in January 2004. The film is being distributed throughout the US byNewmarket Films.
The score was recorded and mixed over a period of four months at BT's The
Buddha Room, as well as several live record rooms to track additional drums,
guitar and stand-up bass. Different to BT's past scores such as The Fast and
the Furious, which amalgamated his 80 piece orchestral compositions with
electronic music, his score for Monster blends roots Americana-like organic,
melodic sensibilities and non-traditional acoustic instrumentation to garner
a complex, powerful and darkly beautiful sequence of music. Throughout the
recording and mixing process, BT worked daily with Jenkins and Theron to
capture the story's yearning, passion, loss and tragedy. The entire score
was conceived and recorded completely in 5.1 surround sound. An extended 5.1
mix of the score featuring over two hours of original music, will be
released on DVD in early 2004 by DTS Entertainment, and will include special
audio and video enhancements not available anywhere else.
Upon completing the score, BT said, "This was the most difficult film I've
ever worked on because I cared so much about the subject matter. It was an
incredible bonding experience between Patty, Charlize and me. I felt a
tremendous responsibility to honor the story of Aileen Wuornos' greatly
Monster was written and directed by first-timer Patty Jenkins and produced
by Charlize Theron, Brad Wyman, Donald Kushner, Mark Damon and Sammy Lee.
The film is based upon the true story of Aileen Wuornos, who was convicted
of the murders of seven men in Florida, and was executed in 2002 after 12
years on death row. Jenkins unearths a love story in the midst of the
horrors and pathologies of two misfits: Wuornos, a prostitute deemed by the
media as the first "female serial-killer" - a monster - and Selby Ward
(Ricci), who was sent by her parents to live with an aunt in Florida in
order to "cure her homosexuality." The two meet and fall in love just as
Wuornos was nearing suicidal despair. Selby becomes the first person in
Wuornos' tragic existence to value her as a human being.
Initially known as the pioneer of trance music, BT has arrived as one of the
most cutting-edge artist/producers and film composers for a plethora of
musical styles. His impressive career began training classically at the age
of 4 and carried on to later education from the Berklee College of Music and
Washington Conservatory, where he studied composition, counterpoint,
harmony/theory, advanced orchestration and conduction, amongst a variety of
other subjects. BT has scored such blockbuster hits as The Fast and the
Furious, Go and Driven, and is also recognized for producing notable artists
such as Britney Spears, *NSYNC and Sonique, remixing the likes of Madonna,
Lenny Kravitz, Korn, Seal and Sarah McLachlin, and his work with Sting and
Peter Gabriel. Earlier this year, he released his fourth full-length
release, Emotional Technology (Nettwerk America), featuring the hit single,
"Simply Being Loved (Somnambulist)" ...a Top 40 radio smash.
Monster premiered last month in Los Angeles as a close to the AFI Film
Festival, and was one of the most sought after tickets at the festival. The
film opens in New York on December 24th and Los Angeles/San Francisco on
December 26th. Monster will open nationwide in January 2004. Look out for BT
on tour with his live band in 2004. Check www.btmusic.com for updates.