Review Summary: In case I don't see ya... Good afternoon, good evening and goodnight.
Certainly one of the more interesting films of the 1990’s was that of Peter Weir’s
1998 art film, “The Truman Show.”
With a somewhat interesting lead cast, the movie was a fairly big success, and won many awards. Part of this success can surely be attributed to the wonderful music composed for the film, which makes its viewing experience far more approachable and compassionate. German-born composer, Burkhard Dallwitz
(who was stationed in Melbourne, Australia during the time), was commissioned to compose by sheer chance, after Weir was handed a recording of a few of his works. While a lot of the music is composed by Dallwitz, minimalist composer Philip Glass
, allowed the usage of some of his already recorded film music to be used, and in turn, helped compose some of the original music himself.
Weir, is known for his use of music in film, from Johann Sebastian Bach
’s Suite for Cello No. 1
in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
to Thomas Albinoni
. In this film like his others, he traditionally makes use of music to enhance the audience’s perception of Truman Burbank's (Jim Carey
) daily life expanses. Under guidance from Weir, both Glass and Dallwitz have produced a film score which makes for a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Dallwitz begins the soundtrack with a conventional cluster of eerie low registering string chords. “Trutalk”
for a moment appears to be nestled in ominous territory, but it abruptly changes motive towards a “news” like introduction, with an additive broadcast-like dialogue, boasting about the show itself, and how the structure used to house Truman’s world is visible from space. And so, the show begins, not only for the visible audience, but also the real audience: us.
The first half of the soundtrack can get, to say the least, a bit tedious, after all, Truman’s life, like any common individual, is pretty uninteresting. It’s certainly harder to appreciate the music from both Glass and Dallwitz without really watching the film in context – an effect which always seems to riddle soundtracks. But, having said that, the music from Glass in particular makes for a good first half. His “Anthem Part 2,”
originally scored for the 1988 film Powaqqatsi
, is quirky and rather cheeky, especially in context with the scene it accompanies, also “Dreaming of Fiji”
is really a piece which feels should be placed in a more importance scene, but somehow mysteriously matches its importance of delivering a common theme for Glass to convey his music further in later installments.
Dallwitz’ music is certainly conventional, and on its own, rather dull and uninspired. But with the correct appreciation, he does create a good common theme for the music to return to, which is, that initial cluster of deep octaves from the double bass. This theme, is reintroduced in other movements such as the beautifully emotional, “Reunion,”
the point in the film where Truman, is reunited with his father. This particular song has a few interesting quirks, one is that Glass actually makes a cameo appearance in the film during part of its performance, and that character Christof (Ed Harris
) conducts the movement as the director of the program. Without even witnessing this moment, which is pivotal, the music is wondrous and epic. It then segues effortlessly into another Glass motive – “Truman Sleeps.”
At first, it feels as if it’s the immediate creation of Dallwitz, but upon closer inspection, this piece is actually pure Glass with its rolling left hand minor-mode rhythms and high registering right-hand accompaniment, reminiscent of parts in his Metamorphosis suite for piano.
In the later half, the music from Dallwitz still remains to convention, but interestingly changes into movements which are truly amazing to listen to, unlike earlier parts. Perhaps this was his intention all along; to maintain a undulating sound in the first, and uplifting in the second. “Truman Sets Sail”
is a sombre reminder of Truman’s predicament during this time, followed closely by Glass’ confident “Raising the Sail.”
Glass himself also has used a theme which resounds within each of his offerings, making the collection between each composer just brilliant. It seems only all too appropriate that they shared the Oscar for Best Score.
As well as the music from the film composers, Weir appropriately made a few choice changes to compliment some importmant moments Firstly Wojciech Kilar
's "Father Kolbe's Preaching"
sounds more like a coupling of Glass’ and Dallwitz’ ideas merged together, but it’s actually a singular piece. Then there is a magnificently romantic performance of “Larghetto”
from Frédéric Chopin
’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor
. Finally Marc Bolan (T-Rex
) of all people composed the rockabilly dance track “Twentieth Century Boy,”
performed by Big Six
The three minds which went into the craft of this soundtrack, Weir, Glass and Dallwitz, have produced not only a set of music which compliments the film brilliantly, but also marks for a interesting and enjoyable listening experience, despite its few flaws. While both composers remain true to genuine film music in string-piano accompaniments, they also show a good deal of experimentation as well, making the in-between parts innovating in their own peculiar ways.