Monday, July 2, 2012

Soundtrack review: 'Prometheus'

Prometheus - Courtesy Sony Music
For the past few weeks, I’ve been living with “Prometheus” in my head. Ridley Scott’s not-really-a-prequel (yeah, right) to 1979’s “Alien” has inspired both frustration and fascination on the part of its built-in fan base.  And while debating the film’s merits in my own head, I’ve also been listening to the score repeatedly, largely written by Marc Streitenfeld, but with key themes by Harry Gregson-Williams, and even a visit from our old friend Jerry Goldsmith, whose theme from “Alien” is heard during one cue.

Streitenfeld’s music is dark, based around the low strings in the orchestra.  Sometimes he opens up the brass section, or augments the score with synthesizers and choirs that howl with strange effects for action scenes.  Other times, the music functions more to create atmosphere, reminiscent of the tone clusters of Penderecki.  There are occasional plaintive melodies, such as “Invitation,” that hint at the film’s plot, of a tragically misunderstood message, perhaps?

My favorite theme from the film is not actually by Streitenfeld, but Harry Gregson-Williams, whose melody, “Life,” opens with a noble French horn, taken up by the low strings, and carried through with brass, full orchestra, and choir. It’s a majestic piece of music that I think captures the hope and wonder of the two archaeologists who convince billionaire Peter Weyland to fund an expedition to a far-off world that goes horribly wrong.

--Nathan Cone

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