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CaveGirl

Travesty or Triumph?

4 posts in this topic

Usually I am not for gilding the lily, and trying to improve perfection.

But occasionally, I can appreciate an attempt to at least give an alternative vision to an already established masterpiece.

Case in point, the commissioned score for the 1931 film "Dracula" directed by Tod Browning. I actually really enjoy watching the film in both versions, with the original score and with the new one from the late 1990's by Philip Glass as performed by the Kronos Quartet.

It's almost like watching a new movie. The music of Glass, perhaps brings attention to other points in the film, which I find interesting and one hears traces of some of his influences like Schoenberg, Webern and even Darius Milhaud in the minimalist rendering. I think the tonal harmonies and repetitious sounds that Glass is famous for work in this instance, quite well.

This is not to mean the original score should be abandoned, as that would be disastrous but in this scenario, I don't have a problem with the new scoring. For some it was travesty, yet other critics and fans found it to be a triumph. If you can think of other films which have received similar treatments that caused such controversy, please share with us.

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46 minutes ago, CaveGirl said:

This is not to mean the original score should be abandoned, as that would be disastrous but in this scenario, I don't have a problem with the new scoring. For some it was travesty, yet other critics and fans found it to be a triumph.

That's just it--There IS no "Original score" for Dracula, since early-30's talkies couldn't mix sound and dialogue.  Either we get music over the scene, or we get "Swan Lake" over the credits, but most of Todd Browning's movies are nightmarishly eerie because there's no music as Dracula and his brides awaken.  The idea that it "needed" music is a nice experiment, but whether it does, is the whole artistic debate.

When Glass decided to do an encore, and wrote a score for the 1944 Jean Cocteau "Beauty & the Beast" which already HAD music, that's when we decided he should wisely move on.

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If you can think of other films which have received similar treatments that caused such controversy, please share with us.

If only Warner still cared about their back-catalog, we might have had a chance of asking them to do one more Superman-style third-draft-cleanup "hybrid" PG-13 cut of Amadeus (1984), rather than the quote-fingers, "Director's Cut" (which Milos Forman hated) that permanently ruined it.  

But no, that was the one they spent the money on mastering for 4K, so that's the one that's in their vaults; it's their story, and they're sticking to it.   ?

 

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I've tried to watch Dracula with the Glass score a couple of times, but it's mixed too loudly on the DVD/Blu-ray editions and drowns out the dialogue.  The making-of documentary on the disc mentions that Dracula was released as a silent film in some theaters that were not yet equipped for sound.  I actually think it would have been a very interesting experiment to have included a "silent" version on the disc, complete with intertitles and Glass's score rather than trying to mix it with the dialogue.

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I've seen a few of Glass' silent-film soundtrack revisions. 'Metropolis' was one; 'The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari' was another?. In general I'm fully okay with it.

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