There have been pieces of music in my past that have stirred such emotional resonance that I wondered if maybe the music was written for me. Thomas Newman’s score for the film American Beauty: I had to restart the DVD after fifteen or twenty minutes because I just couldn’t drag my attention away from that percussive stew. Gavin Bryars’ elegiac The Sinking Of The Titanic — beautiful and spooky. I don’t know a word of Polish (OK, I’m a Saleski…I can count to ten) but the emotion bursting from Dawn Upshaw on Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 is almost too much too bear.
Andrey Dergatchev’s soundtrack to Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film The Return casts that same spell over me. Film music is of course written primarily to enhance the imagery but, every so often, the score is strong enough to stand on its own.
Dergatchev’s use of atmospheric elements: muted voices, dogs barking in the distance, machinery, rainfall, cars, Russian folk music, thunder, dissonance—all serve to create a foggy sense of foreboding. I love every texture-wrapped second of it.
Even if I wasn’t aware (via the promotional material) of the plot outline, I would have known that some sort of trip had come to pass as the mood darkened considerably at the midpoint, culminating in the oddly modern “Final Titles”.
A neat trick, this. Usually I see a film and am overtaken by its music. This time around, the music of The Return has me hungering for the images — not that the ones in my head aren’t interesting.