Thursday, March 10, 2011

Soundtrack review: "Jane Eyre"

“Jane Eyre” has been filmed for the screen 18 times over the past century of film. I must confess, I have not seen any of them (though I have seen “I Walked With a Zombie,” which is loosely based on “Jane Eyre”). But listening to Dario Marianelli’s soundtrack for the newest version, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, may at last lure me to an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s most famous work.

Marianelli, whose previous work includes the Oscar-winning score for “Atonement,” writes in the liner notes to the soundtrack disc that he wanted to make the presence of the imprisoned Bertha Mason known musically in the film. The score opens on a note of melancholy, and harmonies that reminded me just a little of early music, but with the complexity and musical development of John Corigliano’s work. Jack Liebeck’s violin is the featured instrument throughout the score. Early on, it cries, but as Jane begins to free herself from the past, it begins to sing instead.

There’s a heavy emphasis on strings; I don’t remember hearing much in the way of brass or percussion throughout the score, though there are moments of solo piano. Sometimes that’s a dangerous road to travel on too long, as there can be a kind of mind-numbing sameness about the music throughout. But Marianelli develops his themes enough to keep one interested. “Jane Eyre” provides a nice “soundtrack” for working, driving, or perhaps – if I decide to find out – a story by Charlotte Brontë.

--Nathan Cone

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