Shine A Light

Films, Photos, Music, Fashion, Aesthetic, Narrative, Style, Image, Dialogue....

Thursday, 6 May 2010

This Bitter Earth / On The Nature Of Daylight

Dinah Washington died three years before Max Richter was born in 1966.

She was a Soul, Jazz and RnB singer....'What A Difference A Day Makes', 'Mad About A Boy', Unforgettable'..that kind of thing!...She was called the 'Queen Of The Blues' and was married eight she clearly had an eventful life before her untimely death at the age of 39.

Max Richter is a classical pianist and composer. He has also worked with Future Sound of London and shares production credits on the Roni Size Reprazent Drum 'n' Bass classic 'In The Mode'. He also worked on the movie Waltz With Bashir.

Martin Scorsese and Robbie Robertson somehow figured these two artists would mesh well together...and they were right.

(back in the day!)

Robbie Robertson and Martin Scorsese first worked together on the awesome rock concert movie The Last Waltz about ‘The Band’s last show. Since then the two have become great friends and collaborators working together on the movies, King of Comedy, Casino, Gangs of New York (Robertson mostly working under the title ‘Executive Music Producer’).

"It’s a shame that Marty wasn’t gay, the best relationship he ever had was probably with Robbie” Sandra Weintraub (Scorsese’s ex-girlfriend)

On the soundtrack to Shutter Island Dinah Washington's soulful voice and stark haunting lyrics of 'This Bitter Earth' (lyrics by old school song writer and producer Clyde Otis) sit strongly on top of Max Richter's majestic and flowing melody of 'On The Nature Of Daylight'.

This track plays over the end credits of Shutter Island (the instrumental appears in the main film)

The haunting and atmospheric piece of music echoes the themes and ideas portrayed in the film, despair, hopelessness, and possible redemption.

The use of the 'mash up' is interesting and can be seen as being simply a good piece of music that fits the overall ethos of the movie, or there could be a more in depth reading of it.

By using a vocal track from the 50's (when the film is set) and a contemporary score in the style of older classic music (see the rest of the movie's soundtrack) the soundtrack combines many aspects of the film’s setting, style and production, such as a new twist on an old genre.

In Shutter Island Scorsese combines a mixture of styles and cinematic genres, films noir, horror, thriller (and the styles of filmmaking commonly associated with these genres) to create a unique setting and an unsettling world that Teddy Daniels has found himself in. The score (especially this track) helps to convey the feelings of the protagonist and keep with the visual style and messages portrayed throughout the film. So the unique blend of musical styles accompanies the blend of filmic styles used to portray an aesthetic and emotes the narrative and characters of the film.

The soundtrack as a whole with its eerie mix of sinister and somewhat harsh classical pieces of music along with songs from the period (songs by Johnnie Ray, Kay Star, Lonnie Johnson (think 50s period in Goodfellas)) accompanies the blurring effect of Teddy Daniel’s mind. As the barrier between what is real and what is happening in his head and the dark images from his past continually haunt and conflict him.

The mash up effect on ‘This Bitter Earth / On The Nature of Daylight’ is a perfect example of the soundtrack and its use in the film, both in terms of aesthetic and diagetic filmmaking style and invokes the contradictions and torments of protagonist. Thusly serving as much more than a mere homage to the styles of earlier filmmaking and music that inspired the whole production.

Regardless of any of this, both the song and piece of music stand strong in their own rights and that is probably why they hold even more sway of the over the whole mélange of the film.

The soundtrack also boasts a piece of music with probably the best title ever…’Uaxuctum: The Mayan City Which They Themselves Destroyed For Religious Reasons – 3rd Movement”….(I just had to slip that in there).

1 comment:

  1. Very good post. I was mesmerized by Dinah Washington's singing at the end of the movie and the classical music that was mixed with it, just makes this song one of the best I've ever heard! It almost seems that this was the way the song was meant to be heard. I've GOT to have the soundtrack to this movie. Thanks again for the post.