Since no one has added to this blog in a while, I've decided to review a soundtrack that I recently rediscovered to a film that I really liked. The movie is called The Ghost Writer, and although it came out a few years ago, it stuck in my memory-- in part because of the quirky and surprisingly beautiful music by Alexandre Desplat.

To give a bit of context, the movie is a political thriller whose protagonist is a nameless ghost writer. He is adapting the memoirs of England's former prime minister and finds out in the process that he is involved in a political scandal. The music is well-suited for the suspenseful atmosphere and uses several interesting melodies to tie one scene to the next, with the main theme of the ghost writer holding the entire soundtrack together.

 In my opinion, one of the best things about this particular soundtrack is the way the theme works in different moods, ranging from lighthearted to contemplative. For example, it starts as a mysterious, fast-paced melody in the opening song ("The Ghost Writer"), but in the middle of "Travel to the Island" and near the end of "Lang's Memoirs", it is revisited in a calm and thoughtful context. I also really enjoy the fact that, while this music is not strictly classical and has its own modern tonality, it doesn't rely on heavy electronics or strictly atonal harmonies to create tension, as many modern soundtracks do.

Links to other parts of the score:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FsDLU3sr4U (Lang's Memoirs)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr6Svll3RMk (Chase on the Ferry)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoTUX6ZKke0 (The Truth About Ruth)

What are your thoughts on this music?

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi - Greetings from China :) Thanks for your informative post!  Even though YouTube is blocked here in mainland China - with a little help from VPN - I enjoyed listening to the links above - haha.  I must say that although I know little about this area, film-music is grabbing my attention more these days. The music in the links above is quite interesting, seems like much higher level than basic sound track music.  "Lang's Memoirs" and "The Truth About Ruth" - seemed fairly organic, and classically based - sounded mostly like real instruments.  However "Chase on the Ferry" seemed to have a slight bit of electronic sounds in the percussion parts - but not quite sure how it was really produced.

Actually - sometimes it is difficult to tell - which instruments are "real", and which are computer generated.  Thanks again for this informative post, film-music can be quite interesting, in addition to being a great career path for young composers.

Here is a question for our VirtualArtists community:  In the three links above, are all these sounds produced by real instruments?

Excellent article, Grace. I've always appreciated Desplat's eclectic instrumentation and style; his liberal use of timpani especially intrigues me here. Despite the undeniable excellence of Roman Polanski's directoral skills, his disturbing personal life has led me to avoid his films. I'll try to suck it up and watch The Ghost Writer, and tell you how I think it works in context. It sounds great by itself, though.

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