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- Publié sur Amazon.com
Despite initially looking like a potentially disastrous movie, with the whole final third of the movie having to be re-written and re-shot following disastrous initial test screenings, World War Z is actually of the most intelligent and interesting zombie movies of recent years. With the 28 Days Later franchise, the Walking Dead TV show, and countless other imitators, zombies are de rigeur these days, but where World War Z differs is in the fact that it plays more like a tense medical thriller than a traditional zombie-slaughtering action flick, concentrating on the efforts to stem the tide of the potential apocalypse and save the afflicted rather than simply massacring them. Brad Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, a former United Nations specialist who is called back into the fray from his quiet family life in suburban Philadelphia when a pandemic of global proportions erupts - people are turning into vicious, violent zombies at an alarming rate and if Gerry and his colleagues can't find the source, or the cure, it could be the end of humanity as we know it. The film is adapted from the popular novel by Max Brooks and directed by Marc Forster, whose previous films include Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland and the flop James Bond film Quantum of Solace; it co-stars Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz and James Badge Dale.
Writing the music for World War Z is the ridiculously busy composer Marco Beltrami, in what is his second zombie movie of 2013 after Warm Bodies, and the third of his scheduled seven feature films this year. Beltrami has always been a creative, innovative composer, and his work on World War Z is no exception; the score features a large and powerful symphony orchestra augmented by the now ubiquitous electronic enhancements, but the really interesting parts are in some of the specialty instruments Beltrami concocted to create the disturbing, menacing sonic world that Pitt's character finds himself. According to the press coverage that accompanied the soundtrack release, Beltrami based all the melody, harmony, and rhythm of the score on the sound of the U.S. Emergency Broadcast System signal siren, and then incorporated non-traditional percussive elements such as the sound of animal skulls and teeth being mashed together, to create his menacing sonic palette.
What all this means in practice is that the score is very dark, very brutal, short on melody, but containing enough up-front action to satisfy even the most demanding genre fans. One of the things I like about World War Z is how organic it sounds; the orchestra and samples never sounds as though they are competing for attention, instead blending together perfectly so that one would sound incomplete without the other. Too many contemporary action scores seem to simply layer the electronics over the top of the live instruments without any real thought for why they are there or what they are doing, other than the fact that someone, somewhere decided that they should be there in order to appeal to the kids. World War Z's hybrid sound is not like that at all: at times the electronics are the driving pulse of the score, while elsewhere the orchestra is leading the charge, but it always sounds natural and appropriate.
The score, basically, is split into three distinct styles: a tense moodiness that permeates the entire project, balls-to-the-wall action, and brooding, yet vaguely optimistic thematic writing that hints at a brighter future for the inhabitants of this ruined world.
The action sequences are intense. Cues such as the opening "Philadelphia", "Ninja Quiet", and especially the enormous "Zombies in Coach" are relentless explosions of rhythm and raw power. The brass section screams and howls in unison in a manner not too dissimilar to the best work of Elliot Goldenthal. The string section churns violently to give the pieces internal pacing and forward momentum, and the rest of the orchestra provides all manner of unusual performance effects, ranging from screeching high register woodwinds to throaty, raspy trombone blasts down in the depths of the mix. Around all this, the electronic enhancements provide interesting textural nuances - there's even a sampled helicopter rotor in the aforementioned "Ninja Quiet" - while in several cues a growling, heavy electric guitar gives the score a modern, edgy grittiness. It's quite exhilarating.
The tension and moodiness comes via cues such as "Searching for Clues", the first part of "NJ Mart", "Hand Off" and "No Teeth No Bite", which are more low-key and downbeat, featuring a lot more understated string sustains, electronic pulses and stark piano chords, accompanying Gerry on his quest for answers in the face of world wide meltdown.
After a few moments of brief respite in the pretty and intimate "The Lane Family", its is only when we reach the final three cues that score offers a brief sense of hope. The exciting, energetic, highly rhythmic "The Salvation Gates" is as close as the score comes to presenting something heroic, and parts of "Wales" are really quite lovely in a pseudo-grungy sort of way, while the conclusive "Like A River Around A Rock" allows the electric guitar to take full center stage with a lead performance that is world-weary, shell-shocked and resigned, but comes with a bittersweet sense of relief. This isn't a cathartic release by any means - the themes are still grim and firmly entrenched in the misery of the world - but it's a little something for the listener to latch onto in defiance of all the death and destruction.
World War Z is full of innovation and creative thinking on Beltrami's part, and in listening to the score you can't help but be impressed at the way in which the score is structured, layered and presented to have the greatest horrific effect. As an actual enjoyable musical experience, however, your appreciation for the score will depend entirely on your tolerance for extended periods of atonal, aggressive, at times viciously dark writing. For all it's intellectual design and thoughtful approach to orchestration and texture, this is still a horror score through and through, and it is with that caveat in mind that I give it a recommendation to those who already know they appreciate music from the genre.
One final note: in the film itself, there is additional music by singer/songwriter Matthew Bellamy of the immensely successful and popular rock band Muse - two original pieces called "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" and "Follow Me" - but none of his music appears on the soundtrack CD.
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Movie Music Mania
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Of the major blockbusters of summer 2013, World War Z may take the cake for having the most publicized, difficult production history. From endless rewrites and reshoots to a soar in production costs of nearly 75 million to overnight raids by the Hungarian Counter Terrorism Centre, the film was a big budget exercise in Murphy's Law. For years, it seemed that the Brad Pitt zombie vehicle was practically screaming to its cast and crew, "I don't want to be made!" And yet, come June of this summer, World War Z finally shambled into theaters and managed to surprise everyone. Even with its own history working against it, it was actually pretty good. It might have been Max Brooks' World War Z in name only, but Marc Forster, Brad Pitt, and the team of writers that concocted the screenplay managed to deliver a pretty solid summer flick.
Also on board was composer Marco Beltrami, no stranger to the horror genre. Having scored such recent films as The Woman in Black and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (with collaborator Buck Sanders) as well as seven of Wes Craven's films, Resident Evil, and The Thing and The Omen remakes, Beltrami consistently proves himself a reliable go-to for horror scoring. While his work in this genre has always been effective, it is outside this realm that Beltrami has received critical recognition, from Academy Award nominations for his superb work on 3:10 to Yuma and his score for Kathryn Bigelow's 2009 Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker to his Satellite win for Soul Surfer. Taking up the mantel from Michael Kamen, Marco Beltrami also now scores the Die Hard franchise. Though a horror composer at heart, Beltrami exhibits his eclecticism and malleability through this brief career overview alone. Much like John Debney, Beltrami has a remarkable ability to mold his style to the needs of the project at hand but in this he sacrifices a distinct "Beltrami sound." His music almost always perfectly suits or exceeds the requirements of the film, but he doesn't quite have a repertoire of memorable themes comparable to other horror greats.
World War Z is in numerous respects a prime example of this "compositional anonymity", albeit a good score regardless. Wonderfully textured and exhibiting a great blend of orchestra and electronics, Beltrami's work here is for the most part well done action-horror. Like the film, it can be a little forgettable at times but there are still thrills to be had.
"Philadelphia" opens the album with a kind of grungy, industrial effect that calls to mind John Harrison's Day of the Dead, and then builds with an undercurrent of ascending and descending strings to a powerful horn blast a la Hans Zimmer, matching the chaos of the Philadelphia attack sequence. The action then falls into dissonance and reemerges with the most prominent, recurring (it also appears in "Zombies in Coach, among others tracks) action cue at 3:00, based around string ostinatos and percussion. There is nothing worthy of humming here but it's still a powerful opener that sets the tone for the rest of the action cues and establishes the orchestra/electronics combo as a propulsive force. In contrast to this is "The Lane Family," a building, thematic cue that is warm enough to represent the focal family's bond but preserves a distant, wailing electric guitar lest we forget what movie we're in. The theme recurs towards the end of the album in "Wales," a standout track that reminds of John Murphy's 28 Days Later. "Wales" is your quintessential post-apocalyptic-hero(s)-walking-through-desolate-landscapes piece that almost all of these zombie films have but, make no mistake, this is one of the better ones.
Tracks that feature the very industrial, electronic side of the score most prominently include "Searching for Clues", a pulsating piece with static churning and dubstep-like "wub-wub-wub" in the higher registers, and "Hand Off", a straight atmospheric cue that will have you diving to turn down the volume when the ambient, Newman-esque tones and textures are suddenly interrupted by dissonant brutality. The same can be said for "No Teeth No Bite," an exercise in minimalist, electronic ambience. Even with the most heavily electronic cues, the orchestra is never entirely abandoned, either lending to the dissonance or giving reprieve from it from cue to cue. In "NJ Mart," the most heavily electronic action cue, Beltrami clouds the orchestra in grungy synthetic textures, creating a vicious blend that lends itself well to the complete anarchy onscreen.
The most memorable of Beltrami's themes is undoubtedly that which he ascribes to humanity, the kind of "we're beaten down but still fighting back" cue that propels through the bleakness and lends some hope to the characters' struggle. Heard briefly at 2:03 in "Salvation Gates," the theme receives full treatment about two thirds of the way through the standout concluding track, "Like a River Around a Rock." Coupled with its scene (I'm attempting to avoid spoilers here), the theme's reprise is near chill-inducing and perfectly in tune with the tone of the climax.
In addition to the material Marco Beltrami composed for the film, English rock band Muse also lent their song "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" to the film's title sequence. Written while the band was reading Max Brooks' novel, the song features a catchy electronic tune overlaid with British news reports of growing severity. Appropriately for World War Z, one of the newscasters prophesizes, "In an isolated system, entropy can only increase." Muse's song, at least according to Brad Pitt, is World War Z's equivalent of "Tubular Bells," Mike Oldfield's earworm piece from The Exorcist that tends to overshadow just about every other note of music in the film. "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" probably won't gain that level of pop-culture status, but it does the job well and provides a nice accompaniment to Marco Beltrami's score. Sadly, the track is not included on the album, forcing you to get it off Muse's The 2nd Law instead.
Proving once again his reliability, Marco Beltrami mostly delivers with World War Z. Though the score's mixed bag of themes and its abrasive, industrial/ambient elements make it a sometimes challenging listening experience, what else should one expect from a zombie flick? There are moments of ingenuity (the sampling of a helicopter blade and the use of wild pig jaws for percussion), fantastically propulsive orchestral work, and even beauty here but the score's overall anonymity bars it from ascending to a status anywhere near the other horror greats. That being said, a suite of "Philadelphia", "The Lane Family", "Wales", "Like a River Around a Rock" and "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" (for good measure) would probably keep you coming back for more. Certainly another great hit by Beltrami but not exactly a home-run.
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