Being a saga of European story-tellers
caught-up in the very sort of fantastical adventures they tell in their
Terry Gilliam’s latest film echoes his vastly under-valued The
Baron Munchausen (1988). The music by Dario Marianelli (recently
responsible for the latest cinematic incarnation of Pride and
is a decidedly less melodic and accessible affair than Michael Kamen’s
for Gilliam’s earlier gem, and if at 71 minutes vastly outstays its
disc, it does afford some pleasures.
The opening ‘Dickensian Beginnings’ is
gently, melodic, with woodwinds over languorous strings, an almost
quality being a now obvious precursor of cinematic malevolence. Then 85
in the music changes out of all character, into an ominously
march, with oddly, given the cue title and the German nationality of
heroes, distinct Russian overtones. The spirit of Prokofiev is nearby,
the following ‘Shrewd Thespians’ has the astringent humour of
Later Tchaikovsky ballet is summoned in the opening of ‘The Eclipse
and there are playful nods to other classical composers scattered
score – spot the other famous tune skilfully reworked in ‘The Eclipse
Balanced against this playfulness is a
darkness which particularly recalls the seductively evoked evil of
Young’s horror scores, from Hellraiser to Bless The Child.
places the effects are spine-tinglingly effective, with rich
considerable invention. Elsewhere the composer resorts to horrific
cross the line from the musical into the realm of sound effects, and do
make for enjoyable listening. And throughout the composer recourses to
relentless everything-and-the-kitchen-sink cacophonic assault. Indeed,
minute ‘The Forest Comes to Life’ is an example of a dark set-piece
rapidly becomes tiresome, substituting endless effect for a developed
through-line and coherent melodic material.
Given an hour of such stuff the
‘And They Lived Happily After’ comes as a serious relief, a soaring
rhapsody which is by far the highlight of the disc, showcasing the
fine melodic gifts. The ‘End Credits’ reprise the march theme from the
but do so briefly, abruptly fading after two minutes, doubtless to make
the inevitable mood shattering rock song which thankfully isn’t
Dario Marianelli is clearly a talented
composer, though this score and album do not show him at his best,
do all too many modern scores on volume of sound over quality of music.
Nevertheless the composer is one to watch out for. I suspect we will be
much more attention to him in the near future.