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The Man Who Wasn't There (2001 film) Soundtrack

3.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Soundtrack, October 30, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

CD

Amazon.com

Twenty years after their accomplished and unsettling first feature film, Blood Simple, the brothers Coen have returned to their film noir roots with an ominous, monochromatic vengeance. As in all their films, music again plays a crucial supporting role and that means the sonic seasonings of career collaborator Carter Burwell, along with a slate of typically obtuse catalog choices. Though that latter music is hardly the sort of smoky urban jazz usually associated with the genre, its mood and composer are as brooding as they come: Ludwig van Beethoven.

New, abridged recordings of LvB's "Pathétique," "Appassionata," and "Moonlight" sonatas and Piano Sonata No. 25 set the tone, along with a Beaux Arts Trio version of Piano Trio No. 7 (and a brief excerpt of Karl Bohm's "Che soave zeffiretto" from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro). Burwell's original music is shaded similarly, subtly different yet equally somber in mood and character. The composer occasionally reprises his compelling, autumnal string writing from The General's Daughter, progressively darkening the atmosphere to great effect here. The urgent '40s romp "Nirdlinger's Swing" offers up the score's only bowing to period conventions, a brief shaft of light flickering among the shadows. --Jerry McCulley

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 30, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Soundtrack
  • Label: Decca U.S.
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005QK53
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,567 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
If you can't seem to find enough merit to this soundtrack to label it impressive or at least concede that it has managed to weave film noir and classical music together in a tapestry of dark, rich, soulful bittersweetness, then you have obviously missed something. Let's not linger too long in thought on it.

Context, folks. Put it in context. Soundtracks are not composed and arranged as stand alone albums, but rather as the rhythm to which a movie is played out. Within the confines of these cinematic constraints, the album manages to wriggle and squirm enough to accomplish what other soundtracks fail to do: it becomes more than background noise, and writes itself into and becomes indispensable to the film.
I am not afraid that I must disagree with whomever contests that expecting only perfection, we are never disapointed. On the contrary, high hopes and high expectations lead mostly to disapointment, as anyone who has expected this much from anything could tell you.

The soundtrack has the flavor of noir, that mysterious, twisted edginess and allure. Burwell's contributions stand out. While acting as critic, please don't make the mistake of comparing this soundtrack to purely classical renderings. To do this would be like comparing great tea and excellent coffee and complaining that tea makes a horrible cup of joe. Classical musicians make their money by interpreting others' pieces and playing them with precision. This is not the case when arranging pieces and composing your own score. Hats off to Burwell.
If you enjoy the novelty of original and compelling music, buy this album now. Conventional classical enthusiasts beware.
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Format: Audio CD
You might know Burwell best for his score on Fargo but 'The Man Who Wasn't There' is another solid job by one of Hollywood's best composers.
While nearly half of this cd focuses on some songs by Mozart and Beethoven, the score is solid. You will hear the main theme played four different ways on this score but they are all splendid, a melody that is somewhere between the description of relaxing, beautiful, and dark.
Another Burwell cd I highly recommend is Hamlet. Hope you enjoy either of these cd's if you pick them up in the future. I know I have. Enjoy!
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Format: Audio CD
In a perfect world, all soundtracks would contain the scores and diegetic music the screenwriter and/or director intended to be heard in the cinema. In a semi-perfect world, the recordings themselves would a heavenly digital transfer of the original recording sessions. And in an imperfect world, the album would contain all of the sounds and music viewers enjoyed from the film.
After listening to the album, I disagree with the rancor of other reviews of this album. The technical points hold merit, but the distraction is non-existent for the non-audiophile. As a Doors fan, I was initially dissapointed to learn only a handful of the some 30 odd Doors songs in Oliver Stone's film did not make the film soundtrack. "How could they do this!" And after buying "The Bandit Queen"'s soundtrack, I was suprised to find most of the music was a derivative of the actual film score. Do these complaints sound vaguely familiar (see older reviews of The Man Who Wasn't There) Perfection is not found in those albums, nor is it in The Man Who Wasn't There. Yet if one does not go looking for it, one will not be dissapointed, and instead, you are left with an insightful compilation that sets a Film Noir mood to the genre of Classical music. This is not something so readily done with a genre that cut its teeth on Jazz music (See "Romeo's Bleeding"). And the original music composed for the movie is excellent and narcotic. I yearned to listen to those tracks especially, again and again.
Don't compare the album to other music and albums, and you will find a subtle gem that needs only a little bit of polishing to shine through.
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Format: Audio CD
I haven't been able to hear the "audible noises" that the texan reviewer (Ms. Redundancy) seemed so distracted by. The score is great for all the obvious reasons.
I am curious as to whether anyone else unfortunate enough to be familiar with the Billy Joel song (circa 1985) "This Night" from the "Innocent Man" album has noticed that it is a direct and complete rip-off of the Pathetique piece repeated at tracks 1 and 12. Its ridiculous, but it's really plagueing me--I can't listen to it without noticing it.
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Format: MP3 Music
Well, first of all, you've gotta love the Coen Brothers. They don't make formulaic films. The Man Who Wasn't There is all ambiguity and dark subtle humor with a melancholy context. What music could you write for a film like that? And since a main character is enamored of some of Beethoven's finest, how do you approach the composition? Do you counterpoint or complement? I can't imagine a better complement to Pathetique than the main theme for TMWWT. It's beautiful and wistful and it will stick in your head. It's a narrator within the story, a beautiful sad waltz that could not be anything but a last waltz for the protagonist. Like the Coen Brothers films other than Raising Arizona, O Brother and The Big Lebowski, The Man Who Wasn't There is one you 'get' or don't. But like the others, it merits at least a second viewing. The three legs that hold this film steady in the first rank of Coen Brothers achievements are the period correct, underplayed performances, the stunning black and white cinematography and this simple, rich and devastating combination of chosen and written soundtrack music.
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