Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Donnie Darko - Music From The Motion Picture Score - (2002)

The most remarkable thing about Richard Kelly's directorial debut, Donnie Darko, is its sheer tenacity. After suffering the fatal blow of a post-September 11 release date, the ominous film, which features the destruction of a sleepy suburban household by a falling jet engine, was pulled from theaters. Its subsequent release on video garnered a rabid fan base that elevated the movie to cult status, spawning hundreds of websites devoted to untangling its spidery threads of time-travel logic and spiritual chicanery. Rookie composer Michael Andrews, whose only previous work was for television's Freaks and Geeks, captures the underlying dread and unsettling beauty of the film by remaining reverent to it. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, the heart of the piece is a pulsing, hypnotic waltz that transports you to the alternate-reality Middlesex, VA where the film takes place. His use of period (1980s) synths and a voxophone, tastefully punctuated by sparse choral arrangements, evoke a Danny Elfman score leached of bombast and quivering in its naked form. Like Air's soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides, Andrews' songs create such a specific sense of place that an entirely different film would emerge in their absence, robbing the consumer of its dizzying afterglow -- the soft, walking pianos on "The Artifact and Living" and "Rosie Darko" tiptoe through your subconscious for weeks. Due to the sparse, six-million-dollar budget of the movie, the producers had to decide whether or not to include celluloid-only tracks like "Killing Moon" by Echo & the Bunnymen and "Under the Milky Way" by the Church or pay for the special effects. They wisely opted for the latter, threw in an extra quarter and allowed Andrews and singer-songwriter Gary Jules to construct the heartbreaking re-working of Tears for Fears' 1983 hit "Mad World," that delivers the last play on Donnie Darko's haunting, apocalyptic jukebox. (

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