Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bird Man of Alcatraz....original soundtrack composed and conducted by Elmer Bernstein

Birdman of Alcatraz is a 1962 film starring Burt Lancaster and directed by John Frankenheimer. It is about a man named Robert Stroud (Lancaster) who is sentenced to life-imprisonment for murder. While there he develops an interest in birds. In the process, he even develops a cure for bird diseases and publishes a book on the topic. All-in-all, this is a phenomenal movie, and probably Lancaster's best performance ever. The composer of choice for this assignment was Elmer Bernstein, who today is known for scoring films such as; The Man with the Golden Arm, The Magnificent Seven, Walk on the Wild Side, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Escape, Ghostbusters, and The Black Cauldron.

Bernstein brings a magical score that is subtle and delicate, carefree but still dramatic, a real masterpiece. Favorite cues include; Main Title, Flight, Bird Cart, Cage Preparations, No Cure, Runty Dead, Peggy, Stroud Drunk, Riot, Like A Bird, and End Credits. This is an overlooked masterpiece from early in Bernstein's career. It sits right alongside To Kill A Mockingbird (his finest score ever) as one of his greatest achievements in film scoring. Varese Sarabande released this score in a limited edition of 3,000 copies as part of their CD Club label in 2006.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Memoirs of A Geisha...original motion picture composed and conducted by John Williams

The haunting, recurring themes of this score help to give the perfect atmosphere to the movie. The music does exactly what it was supposed to do in musically illustrating and complementing the film and setting the mood. 

John Williams, Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman do such a superb job of musically interpreting the story. Yo-Yo Ma describes John Williams' score as "poetic and mysterious". It is he who expresses these elements through his cello while violinist Itzhak Perlman provides strategic moments of enchantment.

As you listen to this soundtrack it casts a spell over you, and shuts out everything except the music and the emotion. From the innocence of "Going to School" to the drama of "The Fire Scene and the Coming of War" it enchants and pulls you in. Listening to it is almost like meditation.