Marianelli is a relatively new composer to me, I approached this score with a
mixture of anticipation and trepidation. It is exciting to hope that you will
uncover some new, bright talent, but unfortunately experience tells me that
disappointment is all too often the case. Thankfully, in this case at least,
there is good reason to be enthusiastic as Marianelli’s work, on what I
personally feel is one of the best films of the year so far, has enough
emotional depth and resonance, along with some effective bombast, to hail him
as a force in film music to be reckoned with.
The score itself
takes time to build, focusing on mood in the early stages with only an
understated use of theme or melody. It’s all very percussive with lots of
brooding brass, but nonetheless always remains interesting and persuasive.
However, it’s not until mid-way through the album, specifically the tracks
‘Valerie’ and ‘Evey Reborn’ that the composer really begins to shine, and with
these two pieces the score becomes something truly stirring and poignant.
Although Marianelli had subtly introduced a four chord motif earlier in the
score, it is here that it finally comes through coherently and with real power.
I don’t know if it’s just me but there was something within the orchestration
on the mid section of ‘Valerie’ that recalled James Newton Howard’s incredible
work on Signs (2002), but whatever the case, it’s wonderful stuff and
also features a rather beautiful, melancholic segment towards the end that will
linger in the memory. The simple but undeniably affecting key motif reaches a
dynamic crescendo on ‘Evey Reborn’ and these two tracks are really the heart of
the score. Without them it would have been a far less significant work. From
here, the concluding tracks gradually turn up the heat as we move towards a
potent, explosive (literally!) conclusion and Marianelli even manages to end
with Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’.
The three songs
interspersed throughout the soundtrack are acceptable, with Julie London’s
rendition of ‘Cry Me a River’ probably the best, although Cat Power’s vocal on
Lou Reed’s ‘I Found A Reason’ works extremely well in the film itself.
When I watched V for Vendetta, I found it to be a provocative, challenging experience and
the score compliments its images perfectly. Most gratifying of all for
soundtrack enthusiasts is that the music also works as a stand-alone piece that
has a heart and soul all of its own. By nature it is often dark and forbidding
and yet there is a strong undercurrent of emotion. Listen for it and it may
surprise and move you, as it did me.
Michael McLennan adds:-
I really like the
subtle thematic development in this score, the same tracks that Mark noted
standing out for me as well. I would add to the highlights ‘Lust at the Abbey’
with its blend of plainchant choir and Marianelli’s brooding orchestra layers;
and also ‘Knives and Bullets (and Cannons too)’, which builds and build
martially to a climax that reinforces some of the allusions in the story to Guy
Fawkes Day and the tradition of British anarchism with Tchaikovsky’s 1812
Overture (complete with cannons and fireworks).
In many ways it
feels like a work that could have come from Trevor Jones, specifically the
composer’s From Hell. The subtler work here puts it above that
monothematic score, but those who like the score for the Jack-the-Ripper film
will find this score very much to their taste, if a little more oriented to the
action than pathos.
On the whole it’s
not a work that plays as well away from the film as it does within it, and
sadly a climactic cue is missing, but it holds together well and shows off
another side of the composer of In this World, The Brothers Grimm and Pride
and Prejudice. In what must surely be a rare event in soundtrack album
history, the source cues here make for nice interludes, particularly ‘Bird
Benjamin Wallfisch is the subject of another review in this edition for his
score for Thomas Vinterberg’s Dear Wendy. (See link above.)
Tina Huang adds:-
V for Vendetta may reveal another side of Dario
Marianelli, but it's not a facet that's at all mind-blowing, intriguing, or
phenomenal. This is due in part to the film's tasteless incoherence, inept
direction, and uber-tweaked screenplay/production. The visual élan of
Vendetta is more than enough fodder for even the most creatively sterile
composer, but Marianelli (as heard in Pride and Prejudice) isn't about
scoring the obvious. The composer's acute sensitivity to nuances and gradient tones
renders him powerless to tame Vendetta's surging mess of symbolic dross—in
your face drivel that becomes almost like the histrionics of a walk-on, ham-fisted prima donna.
The subtle, yet constant unevenness of the score is proof that he doesn't quite know how
to wrestle with the beast when it rampages through the film.
When dark visuals and cerebral surrealism run amok, two
composers, that can turn virtually anything to sonic gold, come to my mind:
Elliot Goldenthal (Interview with the Vampire, Final Fantasy: The
Spirits Within) and Wojciech Kilar (Bram Stoker's Dracula, The
Ninth Gate). Had either of these composers been at the musical helm for
Vendetta—which is mostly set darkness and abstract absurdity, the score
could've become something of substance.
In-Film and Standalone Average: 3