Automotive Deals HPCC Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Sun Care Handmade school supplies Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Segway miniPro
Customer Review

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Desplat score shows his off his talent for stylish suspense, March 5, 2010
This review is from: The Ghost Writer (Audio CD)
It's impossible to talk about The Ghost Writer without talking about Roman Polanski. The director of The Ghost Writer and other such excellent films as Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, The Ninth Gate and The Pianist was arrested in Switzerland on 25-year old sexual abuse charges during post-production on this film, and has since become a divisive figure. Whether the scandal and scuttlebutt surrounding Polanski will affect The Ghost Writer's reception remains to be seen, but the Pole has always been an excellent cinematic mind, and his films continue to impress. As a result of his incarceration, many of the film's `finishing touches' had to be made without him, including the recording of Alexandre Desplat's original score for the film; thankfully, despite however you may feel about Polanski and his transgressions, Desplat's score is yet another strong one.

The Ghost Writer is a political thriller based on a novel by Robert Harris, starring Pierce Brosnan, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton and Kim Cattrall. Brosnan plays Adam Lang, a former British prime minister, who is writing his memoirs. However, after his first ghost writer is found murdered, the replacement (McGregor) discovers some disturbing truths about Lang's life in politics, linking him to a number of dark secrets involving torture, terrorism and the CIA, and before long, the new ghostwriter finds himself in genuine danger of suffering the same fate as his predecessor.

The Ghost Writer is Alexandre Desplat's first score of 2010, but his eleventh in the last two years. Desplat's rise to the top of the Hollywood composing tree has been stellar to the say the least, but what's really impressive is how he manages to flit from genre to genre, work with directors as respected as David Fincher, Steven Frears, Jacques Audiard and now Polanski, and write score after score of wonderful music that is unique and appropriate to the project, but which always sounds like a Desplat score. He is quickly becoming my favorite working composer, and The Ghost Writer continues his excellent run of creative form.

People tend to forget that, in amongst all his pretty waltzes and romance themes, Desplat is pretty good at scoring suspense too. His work in France on scores such as Nid De GuÍpes, Une Chance Sur Deux, L'Ennemi Intime, and last year's L'Armée du Crime, as well as Hollywood scores like Hostage and Firewall, have more than established his credentials in the genre, and this latest work merely adds to his reputation. The Ghost Writer is a classic suspense score with more than hint of Bernard Herrmann in its makeup, from the prominent use of strings to the film noir sensibilities in the orchestrations, which as always make excellent use of the entire orchestra in atypical settings and creative combinations.

The main theme, "The Ghost Writer", is an unusual exercise in rhythmic tension, building from a hooting bassoon element, picking up a bed of guttural wavering flutes, and eventually emerging into an unusual staccato theme which uses the entire woodwind section as percussion, and is interjected with a classic suspenseful interlude for strings and glockenspiel. It's great stuff, intellectually creative, musically interesting, and appropriately dangerous-sounding, considering the film's subject matter. The theme re-occurs regularly throughout the score, in cues such as "Travel to the Island" and the mesmerizing "Hidden Documents", and in deconstructed fragmented fashion in virtually every other cue.

The see-sawing motion of the instruments and the constant, nervous plucking is a recurring element of the score, which retains a sense of movement and energy throughout its length. It's almost as though Desplat's music is playing a game of hide-and-seek with the listener, never wanting to reveal itself or its full intentions, and that by continually moving, continually shifting around the orchestra it can remain elusive. It's a clever mirroring of the main character's diversionary tactics: he is writing a book which tells all, but at the same time is desperately trying to cover things up.

In every cue, Desplat uses his orchestra restlessly. The strings pluck and dance, the woodwinds whoop, the percussion items tap and bubble, the harps and chimes and glockenspiel fade lightly in and out and between them all. Nothing ever comes together in a conventionally harmonious fashion, and this is where the tension comes from. It's quite excellent how Desplat constantly plays all the instruments off each other constantly, shifting the focus from one section to another. Cues such as "Travel to the Island" see violins temporarily picking up the lead from the endlessly oscillating woodwinds. Later, "Investigation" sees the string, piano and woodwinds leading each other on a merry dance of inquisitive, prancing rhythms.

After a few moments of tense, bubbling build-up, "Chase on the Ferry" explodes into a lavish string-led action sequence of great speed and fury, which should hopefully once and for all dispel the myth that Desplat can't write action music. Later, cues such as "In the Woods" and "Bicycle Ride" present the main theme in a more dynamic setting with rolling snare drums, bounding timpanis and more prominent brasses giving broad accompaniment to the woodwind eccentricities.

Only in "Lang's Memoirs", "Lang and the CIA" and the conclusive "The Truth About Ruth" do we get the briefest moments of more conventional thematic warmth; in these cues Desplat downplays the pizzicato dancing, and instead moves subtle string harmonies and harp solos to the forefront of the mix. However, even here, Desplat steadfastly refuses to bow to convention, instead keeping the audience slightly on edge through his off-kilter harmonies, brooding string textures and scuttling percussive effects.

I know I sound like a broken record when I continually praise every score Desplat writes, but I really and truly believe that his is the freshest and most creative new voice to enter the film music world in years, and that each new score he writes proves further what an astounding talent he is. While I'm sure that parts The Ghost Writer will prove to be slightly on the odd side for listeners with more conservative tastes, I personally thought both the oppressive atmosphere and electric energy Desplat created in the score was masterful, and I recommend it to all who know and enjoy his style.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]

Comments

Track comments by e-mail

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 19, 2010 9:58:58 PM PDT
Compay says:
Terrific review.

Posted on Mar 21, 2010 6:29:38 PM PDT
I think the "hooting bassoon element" is actually a bass clarinet.

Absolutely wonderful score though, yes
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 20,372