The Wicker Man/Angelo Badalamenti

September 29, 2006


2006 seems to be a year for Nicholas Cage to play police roles. First it was John McLoughlin in the highly visible Oliver Stone film World Trade Center and now he is Edward Malus a police officer looking for a missing child in the American remake of the 1973 British film Wicker Man. Directed by Neil LaBute, who also reworked the Anthony Shaffer screenplay, the film also stars the veteran actress Ellen Burstyn. Parts were filmed in British Columbia/Vancouver making for some pretty wonderful scenic shots, a highlight of the film along with the soundtrack from Badalamenti. This is really quite a forgettable film that just didn’t translate very well to an americanization at all. The entire story had as many holes as a screen and Cage who was also one of 17 producers (when was the last time you saw one!) seemed to go through the screenplay wanting it to end so he could collect his paycheck and go onto his next of several different projects. The music however is a completely different story.

Badalamenti in the first track “Overture for The Wicker Man” gives us the three main themes to the soundtrack which are linked to the isle, women on the isle, and the main characters Edward, Rowan, and Willow. The delicate use of an acoustic guitar, wordless female voice, strings, and melody from a clarinet makes for a simple but effective mourning, wanting theme. “Cycling into a Nightmare”, a key moment in the film for action and suspense, has some tense music but compared to other action tracks found on numerous soundtracks this one is fairly low key in nature. “Sister Summer’s Isle” is a complete treatment of the theme introduced in the Overture track. Ominious, dark, the way a good suspense/horror track should be written as opposed to that clanging, and pounding from the synth so prevelant in todays films. Angelo makes use of electronic sounds in his scores but does so in a tasteful manner. “The Burning”, which is nearly the ending of the film, offers voiceless chorus, cult/ethnic music, and the restating of the summer isle theme in its haunting best. While there is a prologue six months later to end the film, this track sums the film up quite well.

The mixing and mastering done by Tony Gillis at Classic Sound, electronic programming by Phil Marshall, engineering by Joe McGrath, are all top notch. A very nice touch was a paragraph from the composer who explained in easy enough to understand language how he went about the process with director La Bute of putting the score together with the correct style of orchestration, coloring, when and where to use electronics. It is really quite interesting the process that a composer must go through to achieve the correct balance which Angelo did in this case. In fact this is the strongest part of the film that can be recommended! The soundtrack is quite good if you enjoy your music on the darker side. The film has to fall into the category of if you are a horror fan you will check it out with or without this review. If you are a huge fan of the 1973 film, the temptation will be there to compare. Wait until there is a DVD and rent it at a bargain price.


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