Muriel's Quote

Paul over at the Muriel Awards was kind enough to ask me to write about Jonny Greenwood, since he won the Best Music category. Only, after I wrote and submitted the piece I realized that my comment about Greenwood being denied an Oscar nomination was off base, because I misunderstood the reason (He was denied for using his own previously composed works, but I thought he used to high a percentage of other composers works).

Alas, this was all too late to fix when I realized. So, below is my corrected text, for the sake of pride and history.

The opening shot is like a western. You expect to see a lone horse riding around the bend. Instead we have a muscular spider web of glissando strings. It resolves, more or less, to a harmonious chord. And the pick hits the rock and we hear the tang of the hole Daniel Plainview has dug for himself. If I tell you this is no western, friends, you’ll agree.

Those who complain of There Will Be Blood lacking heart should sit and listen to the soundtrack again. The score is melancholy and complex, halting and both slightly antique and completely modern. Only small portions of low mixed guitar might confuse this work with Radiohead. The rest is pure heartbreaking orchestration that illustrates that you really can take the composer out of the band, and the band out of the composer.

But most impressively it burned the turns of the tones in my synapsis like the ghost of an image on the retinas. When I listened away from the visuals, I was surprised by how much of the score I not only remembered, but remembered well. Like you might remember that favorite song you played every day for a month a few years ago. The one that you still love. The score evoked those ghosts of memory, but not necessarily the ghosts of Plainview.

Like Eisenstein’s theory of montage where one uninflected image placed next to a second uninflected image forms a third idea apart from both of them, Greewood’s score stands alone, and then during the movie combines to make something that neither of the visuals or the music could have without the other. Shame that it’s ineligible for an Oscar. It would win in a walk.


Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: February 20, 2008 01:25 PM
The Oscar thing is still bullshit, no matter how you slice it. (Greenwood -- #1 on my Muriel/Music ballot.)
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