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 Posted:   Jan 13, 2014 - 12:23 PM   
 By:   Brandon Brown   (Member)

Did anyone attend Film Night at Tanglewood in 2009? Frank Langella was in attendance and Mr. Williams performed music from DRACULA. It was an outstanding evening. I was even able to get Mr. Williams's autograph after the show.

I wrote up a small article on the event following the show. Some photos from the evening can be found here, if anyone's interested: http://www.playmountain.net/news/events/exclusive-coverage-film-night-at-tanglewood-2009/

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 13, 2014 - 12:34 PM   
 By:   jonnyquest   (Member)

This is a case where I really don't think you can argue that the original album suffices for this score. I just rewatched the movie recently (shown in Badham's preferred, but truly frustrating, color-leeched version). It's a pretty uninvolving film although there are a few good moments and Langella as always is wonderful. But Williams' score is even better than I remembered--it's a full, lush, epic work, far more than the handful of highlights the LP suggested. There are whole themes (such as the four-note motif that plays while the horse is stomping on Mina's grave) that are barely suggested on the album but are given full development in the score. Dracula and Jane Eyre would make two great companion pieces and both are tragically "lost" full scores, at least presently.

Jeff, I couldn't agree with you more. You even nailed the 4-note mofif! And I've always felt that Dracula and Jane Eyre (the scores, that is!) complement and pair with each other perfectly.

Perhaps the only detail I may respectfully disagree with is in regard to the infamous color desaturation. In the years since it first jarred me, it's now my preferred look for the film. The desaturation seems to add an extra "period flavor" that, to me, helps disguise the late-70's look of some aspects of the film (some haircuts, for instance) and give a more "timeless" quality.

As with every single film that has ever been tinkered with after its theatrical release, though, I would love to see a deluxe Criterion-type presentation of this film with both versions available. I often grow to admire some revisions down the line, but the most sentimental movie lovers (i.e. me) also want to re-experience a film exactly as I/we remember first seeing it.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 13, 2014 - 1:07 PM   
 By:   Kev McGann   (Member)

My most wanted cue from this film is that jaunty little 'establishing shot' piece underscoring the old automobile running along it's muddy path. It's replaced the Dack/Luke/snowspeeder music from TESB (now available), which used to be my most wanted unreleased Williams snippet.
Story of a Woman and Tom Sawyer are my most wanted premiere and expansions though.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 13, 2014 - 1:29 PM   
 By:   nerfTractor   (Member)

But I will stick with my claim that no conductor other than Johnny, who is still with us and going pretty strong, could bring this score fully to life.

And you're welcome to both that claim of opinion - and the lifetime of empty regret when anyone else takes up the baton.


Your generosity in the matter is humbling.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 13, 2014 - 1:33 PM   
 By:   nerfTractor   (Member)

This is a case where I really don't think you can argue that the original album suffices for this score. I just rewatched the movie recently (shown in Badham's preferred, but truly frustrating, color-leeched version). It's a pretty uninvolving film although there are a few good moments and Langella as always is wonderful. But Williams' score is even better than I remembered--it's a full, lush, epic work, far more than the handful of highlights the LP suggested. There are whole themes (such as the four-note motif that plays while the horse is stomping on Mina's grave) that are barely suggested on the album but are given full development in the score. Dracula and Jane Eyre would make two great companion pieces and both are tragically "lost" full scores, at least presently.

Jeff, I couldn't agree with you more. You even nailed the 4-note mofif! And I've always felt that Dracula and Jane Eyre (the scores, that is!) complement and pair with each other perfectly.

Perhaps the only detail I may respectfully disagree with is in regard to the infamous color desaturation. In the years since it first jarred me, it's now my preferred look for the film. The desaturation seems to add an extra "period flavor" that, to me, helps disguise the late-70's look of some aspects of the film (some haircuts, for instance) and give a more "timeless" quality.

As with every single film that has ever been tinkered with after its theatrical release, though, I would love to see a deluxe Criterion-type presentation of this film with both versions available. I often grow to admire some revisions down the line, but the most sentimental movie lovers (i.e. me) also want to re-experience a film exactly as I/we remember first seeing it.


I think my sole beef with the way that the score is used the film (and it's a doozy), is that Williams's grand major key resolution for Dracula's death, with the brilliant trumpet statement over strings, is entirely edited out of the film. Clearly the sequence was re-edited and these few bars were cut for time, but boy oh boy does it ever undercut the entire structure of the piece. Apart from missing the culmination of the score, the edit is just plain clumsy. A huge missed opportunity there...

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 13, 2014 - 5:42 PM   
 By:   jonnyquest   (Member)



I think my sole beef with the way that the score is used the film (and it's a doozy), is that Williams's grand major key resolution for Dracula's death, with the brilliant trumpet statement over strings, is entirely edited out of the film. Clearly the sequence was re-edited and these few bars were cut for time, but boy oh boy does it ever undercut the entire structure of the piece. Apart from missing the culmination of the score, the edit is just plain clumsy. A huge missed opportunity there...


It is clumsy! For me - and obviously you too - it's more than just the fact we love film music and we are protective of every note. It's just insanely frustrating how often the musical dramatics conceived for a film are handled this carelessly. I haven't ranted about this in a long time, here it comes! LOL smile

I tend to consider that cinema, being such a collaborative art form, is triumphant when each contributing artist's work comes together perfectly - and as intended. The integrity of the screenplay is preserved, the cinematographer's work is not compromised or meddled with, each performance is presented flawlessly, etc. So when a composer nails something dramatically and musically (such the simple and magnificent resolution Williams conceived for Dracula) and then the finished thing is tossed together sloppily and with no reasonable motive - it is, as you said, a missed opportunity and it undermines the whole.

I think it can be very cool when film music serves the movie in surprising ways, unusal spotting, say - or even suddenly stops - as Hitch & Williams decided to do for the window escape in Family Plot. As long as it's the conception of the film makers to create an intended effect, and not just lousy music editing or sloppy film craft.

And though I'm sure that some fans would argue "we're the only ones who notice this stuff," I do believe that general audiences get it on some level. It's never a coincidence to me that films in which nothing seems to be compromised end up so successful. Whatever the style of music or film, even those with pop song scores or tracked classical scores, if the film + music alchemy is presented just as conceived, without careless meddling or bad craftsmanship, the results are almost always more pleasing to an audience, even if they don't know why. And they shouldn't have to know why; I think that's what makes the best films genuine "art": visual & aural storytelling that is conceived and executed with such dramatic and stylistic insight that the results can't help but involve, move or transport an audience. Comedy, drama, thriller, whatever. Not to say that there aren't happy accidents or that indie or improvisational filmmaking doesn't yield exciting results. But even then, it usually works when the vision isn't botched.

As I've said a million times, look at E.T. - still one of cinema's most popular mainstream entertainments, and little wonder. Every element of that film: concept, writing, director's vision, performances, visuals, and of course music - which the film was literally tailored to - create a harmony that is so agreeable that most viewers can't NOT applaud. And cry, and cheer. Even those who dislike the film or accuse it of manipulation can barely argue that it isn't beautifully, beautifully crafted. And designing a film (or play or novel) towards a certain reaction isn't manipulation, for me anyway. What makes a good horror film may be a matter of interpretation or taste. But if the filmmakers intend to scare an audience and everything they present is their precise concoction for doing so, then it is what it was intended to be.

I'm not as much a fan of today's type of film music approach, but when the sound of the film is devised in a intentional way and not just poured over the film carelessly, I can still find the effect works perfectly. "The Social Network" - much maligned on these boards, is an example for me. The film works BETTER for the music being exactly what it is and presented precisely, I believe, as intended.

Anyhow, at least the musical moment you described is presented on Williams' recording as intended, even with its infamous muddy sound. Thank you for your time. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 13, 2014 - 7:18 PM   
 By:   nerfTractor   (Member)

Anyhow, at least the musical moment you described is presented on Williams' recording as intended, even with its infamous muddy sound. Thank you for your time. smile

It's a good point that you make. I doubt most people who had no knowledge of the score missed a beat at that moment, although even a casual listener with an ear for what's happening musically would have to notice the totally inept hack on the soundtrack, even if they didn't know what was being hacked. It happens all the time, and I sincerely doubt that Badham or his editors willfully set out to rob the entire score of its climactic resolution. Probably there was some effects shot that just didn't make the final cut in time for release (I'm guessing, of course). Certainly by this point in the film, the effects are embarrassingly sketchy, practically screaming "We ran way over budget." But this example of score mangling is particularly egregious to my ears.

Your larger point is well taken, too. There are filmmakers whom I consider to be mindful of the collaboration with a composer (Spielberg, Hitchcock, Fincher, De Palma, and some others), and then there are those who seem to view the score as just another tool to be used in creating the final product, often without much regard for whether the music makes good sense overall after they are done cutting (well hello there, Ridley Scott). Most of the time when it's a Williams score, there is a certain reverence. DRACULA just happens to be a very rare exception in this isolated case. Heaven knows, the music throughout the rest of the film is treated with tender loving care, and there are whole sequences that venture almost into music video territory, playing with no dialogue or sound effects at all while the score blazes forth. That crazy love sequence with the laser lights, which Langella famously hated, is just one example. So I grudgingly give Badham a pass on the big climax cue. He clearly loved what Johnny delivered and featured it as well as he was able.

Anyhow, apologies to the OP for the thread hijack here. Back to the topic at hand. In all honesty, I'd be happy with any revival at all of this great score, right down to a simple cleaned-up remaster of the LP presentation (though of course, we all wish for more). As readers may have guessed, it's one of my very favorites from this astonishingly fertile period in Williams's career.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 13, 2014 - 7:56 PM   
 By:   jonnyquest   (Member)



What a great reply, nerf, (loved "well hello there, Ridley Scott") and thank you for reminding me that indeed Mr. Badham did showcase the score with respect, largely intact and in a way that allowed it to enhance the film!

I'm not so irked at any one example of movie/music butchery; more ranting that in those instances, it's not so much a chopped musical phrase that bugs me as it's chopped storytelling.

It's me who should apologize to the OP, I did more of the hijacking. But like a real conversation, ya never know which direction a post can wander. At least in our recent volley it was a bit of a return to the fun of talking about music and movies and not just a "why hasn't xxxx label shipped my order yet?" chat. smile

 
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