Aggie's Music

I usually blab about film scores on this blog, but I don't mind the occasional tangent towards other interests. :)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

I watched Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) a while ago. The score to the film is by Bernard Herrmann. He’s better known for his work with Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest) so I decided to look at some of his work outside of Hitchcock, but still around the same time. It was a pretty fun film!

“I decided to evoke the mood and feeling of inner Earth by using only instruments played in low registers. Eliminating all strings, I utilized an orchestra of woodwinds and brass, with a large percussion section and many harps. But the truly unique feature of this score is the inclusion of five organs, one large Cathedral and four electronic. These organs were used in many adroit ways to suggest ascent and descent, as well as the mystery of Atlantis.” (Herrmann)

Indeed, he made the music’s relation to the film seem more natural than human. I loved the organs! It was really haunting, most of it in lower register. Harps were used to signify anything colourful or delicate in the movie... such as when the crew enters the Mushroom Forest. It seemed a bit contrasting at first... very melodic and pretty compared to the low brass and harps, but I suppose Herrmann wanted to accomplish a broader range while still making the idea of going inside the earth somewhat dark and horrific.

I like how Herrmann puts so much thought into orchestration. A lot of films these days call for strict full orchestra, aaaaand that’s a bit weird. I’ve been reading articles about how a director can really limit the composer’s imagination, whether it is tampering with the orchestration itself, timing, etc. Bernard Herrmann is a perfect example of really pushing his ideas.

Yay for the summer! I have more time to watch lots of movies! :D


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