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SONIC DEATH MONKEY SOUNDTRACK REVIEWS - American History X and Requiem for a Dream

by Laura Kyle

I want to talk about two films that rest their elbows a bit on their powerful scores. I only like one of the films, but I like both the scores.

American History X and Requiem for a Dream. The former is one of my all-time favorite films.

But what about Requiem for a Dream? It’s just so edgy, so mesmerizing!

So not believable, in my opinion. And it’s probably all Jared Leto’s fault that I happen to be in the microscopic minority of dissent for the “gritty” drug drama. I’ll get my fix with Trainspotting, thank you very much. Leto just doesn’t sell the flick for me. Luckily, I can’t say the same for the score.

Clint Mansell’s unsettling music to Requiem for a Dream should have gamers geared up for the composer’s latest project, Doom. If Mansell does a similar shtick, reminiscent of Requiem, for the scary-ass video game turned motion picture, then you might be able to qualify “motion picture” with scary-ass, too.

I want to focus on just one of his pieces to Requiem, because Mansell borrows from all his earlier, undeniably suspense, but irritatingly brief themes (defined by the time of year in the character’s lives) and lets them run loose in the thrilling, climactic "Lux Aeterna," the second to last song on the soundtrack.

Everyone knows it. It’s that dark, chilling number that begins with a slight percussive beat and then immediately shows off part of its haunting melody (perhaps a viola?), with a frustrated string instrument in the background. A persistent four note piano melody sets "Lux Aeterna" up for an even more dramatic turn, where that famous violin theme makes itself known.

Petering off, only to reemerge, "Lux Aeterna" is an anxious, well – panicked, work that’s difficult to put on pause once it’s started. All in just over three minutes.

Anne Dudley’s score to American History X is probably one of the most beautiful, unobtrusive compositions I’ve ever heard. Her music has a classical quality (as does Mansells’) and is quietly contemplative, building toward that stirring, final retread of the opening chamber-like chorus. The evolution of Edward Norton’s character and the sobering finale is remarkably illustrated with Dudley’s often ominous but ultimately meditative, hopeful music. This is how you do a film score!

“We Are Not Enemies” is similar to Hans Zimmer’s Pearl Harbor score, and in a good way. There’s also a hint of Samuel Barber’s “Adaigo for Strings” in there to. I like this piece a lot! In fact, I wonder if Zimmer had some of Dudley’s score stuck in his head when he got out a pencil and staff paper for Pearl Harbor, because the two scores are comparable (at times).

Both Mansell and Dudley are Brits who only dabble in big American films and I unfortunately don’t know them beyond Requiem for a Dream and American History X (I am aware that Dudley was part of a cheesy, 80’s pop band), but it’s apparent they are both extremely talented and capable of almost, you could say, startling the moviegoer. They play major roles in making these two films as compelling as they are (despite my feelings toward Requiem – hey, all of Ellen Burstyn’s scenes were magnificent, there’s that!).

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originally posted: 08/05/05 03:12:01
last updated: 09/23/05 15:13:32
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