Fri, 12 June 2009
Another summer movie remake opens today, with Tony Scott's redo of "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3". The original film debuted thirty-five years ago, and starred Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw in a thriller involving the hijacking of a New York City subway car. Times being what they are, I suspect the sense of dread that existed in the early seventies involving the subways has somewhat dissipated, removing some of the overall tension that made the original film memorable.
Another reason the original film was memorable was its soundtrack, which has been described by Allmusic.com as "one of the best and most inventive thriller scores of the 1970s". Written by veteran film composter David Shire ("Norma Rae", "The Conversation", "Farewell, My Lovely" and most recently "Zodiac"), the score was heavily polyrhythmic, with horn sections building tension and delivering payoffs to drive along the action. Shire utilized the 12-tone method of composition, a technique devised by Arnold Schoenberg in the early 20th century in a theme is created by using 12 pitches in a specific order, and then other theems are created by playing that "row" backwards, upside-down, backwards and upside-down, or transposed. Click here to listen to the "Main Title", a good example of the overall soundtrack.
Unfortunately, the new film reportedly has abandoned any attempt to rewrite or pay homage to the original score, relying on Rap Music ("99 Problems" by Jay-Z or Alternative Rock (A Perfect Circle) for a more contemporary sound. Imagine if a Christian McBride, Terence Blanchard or even the hip-hop influenced D.J. Logic could have been brought in to re-image this classic score!
Category:general -- posted at: 2:37am EDT