FALLING DOWN Music Composed by JAMES NEWTON HOWARD INTRADA Special Collection Vol. 265
James Newton Howard's score to the 1993 film Falling Down marked his third collaboration with Joel Schumacher, after Flatliners (1990) and Dying Young (1991). He begins the score with an arresting portrait of irritation and building fury -- jungle drums and abrasive effects grating at anti-hero William Foster until a low, angry horn announces his exit from his automobile and the beginning of his crusade against society. It's the start of a score featuring a complex meld of orchestral music blended with multiple layers of electronics and percussion, both real and synthesized. In keeping with the grim tone of the movie, Howard removed trumpets from the scoring (save one in two very key sequences). By omitting the upper brass register, he was able to lend the music an aura of intensity and impending tragedy without overt signs of warmth or optimism.
To present the world premiere release of James Newton Howard’s score, Intrada was given access to the entire digital scoring session masters vaulted at Warner Bros. The scoring sessions were engineered at Todd-AO by veteran Shawn Murphy, who emphasized the crisp edge this particular score warranted; subsequent mixes were made by Murphy at Capitol Records.
In Falling Down, Michael Douglas plays William Foster, a former defense engineer who has lost his job and, in an ugly divorce, his family. As the film opens, Foster simmers in a Los Angeles traffic jam, finally abandoning his car in disgust. He quickly runs afoul of a Korean grocer and a couple of gangbangers, setting off a series of events that spirals out of control. Weary and seemingly disoriented, he keeps claiming he’s simply trying to get home for his daughter’s birthday, and he does so while placing increasingly threatening calls to his ex-wife (Barbara Hershey). A retiring cop, Prendergast (Robert Duvall), pursues Foster across Los Angeles, eventually facing down the engineer in a fateful confrontation in Venice.
I remember seeing the film at the National Film Theatre in London, I think it was May 1993, may have been 94. Excellent film, very strong score. A definite purchase for me next week!!!
Will get it too, I think I first saw the movie when my older brother rented it and though it doesn't work all the way through for me, it is a great anti-hero movie. 90s James Newton Howard you can't go wrong with!
There was a pretty good breakdown/theme analysis in an old 90's SOUNDTRACK mag, I'll have to pull that at home and give the issue # if anyone cares.
VERY excited about this, its a great score, fairly deep stuff and very well structured, almost like a modernist take on the Fielding/Schifrin 70's scores, but updated with 90's writing. I'm excited to see how Intrada will present this one!
How would you compare the score to his other works? Whats the basic feel? I never saw the film.
There are a few central figures and themes. It's kind of avant garde in some places, especially the music that accompanies Douglas' mental break down on the freeway traffic jam. It's kind of like urban Elliot Goldenthal with quarter tone horns, buzzing electric guitars, orchestral chaos.
There is an ominous horn figure that accompanies Douglas' increasing intolerant mood and a delicate Music box type theme for his daughter.
I'd say the style is very much rooted in '90s JN Howard (aka The Fugitive) and the standout cue is The Pier which is a harried chase cue with frenzied strings and snarling low brass.
Definitely worth the price of admission as the saying goes.
The music starts very small and electronic/acoustic but as the events of the film unfold and Douglas gets himself into increasingly deeper trouble, the score gets bigger and more like the orchestral powerhouse chase cues from The Fugitive until eventually it all explodes in the climax and then returns to the smaller, music-box / lonely trumpet themes.
Also, a major component in this score is electric guitar. I remember the old, old print b&w issue of FSM did a great article on this score and how it was the best use of electric guitar in a film score and I agree.
The guitar isn't used in a traditional action movie "Days of Thunder" kind of way, its more guttural - never used to celebrate something spectacular, rather illustrate Douglas' dark, unstoppable rampage state. It's also sometimes used in conjunction with some really unsettling instrument that almost sounds like an Australian didgeridoo. Also the sad musicbox theme for Douglas - he buys a snow-globe for his daughter for her birthday.
Howard employs a lot of strange, otherworldly sounds (sometimes acoustic, sometimes synth) to underline the fragile mental state of the main character and the ugly underbelly of the city and it's sleazy inhabitants.
It really is a musical journey that takes you through a day in the life of someone who is losing their grip.
I remember seeing this in theaters back in I guess '93 with my folks. Was totally blown away and I think about certain scenes and bits of dialogue on a daily basis. Totally underrated classic and my favorite performance from Douglas.
So, it's really a mixed bag. Lots of weird "crazy dude" music mixed with a tender, regretful orchestral bits, blaring and violent guitar and balls-to-the-wall trademark Howard action cues that I suspect most people will be very impressed by.
I cannot wait to get my hands on this.
Thank you Intrada! First Blown Away and now Falling Down!
No score here but this is a classic scene:
This is the best thing Shcumacher has ever and will ever do.
This is one score where I hope that Intrada does one of their "The Album" and "The Extras" for. There's a good 40 minute album to be made from this score. Fingers crossed they don't stick the "Pier" cue after the "Prendergast Takes The House" cue. The explosion of sound that kicks off "Pier" just wouldn't be right buried in another track.