PRISONERS.

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On listening to the score for prisoners I thought that it was in a word “slow”, the music is rather downbeat and as far as I was concerned went nowhere, it developed very little momentum, and also there were no real themes as it were. But after seeing the movie and hearing the score in conjunction with the images and the tense storyline, I realized just how good a score this is, ok it may be rather subdued and also is certainly not an action, knock em down and drag em out kind of soundtrack, but it is highly effective within the movie, it creates a fraught tension and also a fearful and edgy atmosphere because the composer Johann Johannsson has very cleverly scored away from the action or has produced a score that underlines subtly  the tension and what is going on up on the screen, therefore by scoring it in this way he creates an even greater tension and also enhances the story line making it even more dramatic and hard hitting. The soundtrack is performed mainly by strings, with a scattering of woodwind, there is also present organ and at times the hint of the Ondes Martinot, but it is not overwhelming or even centre stage of proceedings, it kind of skirts around the edges of the compositions, being a background or an introduction rather than a main player, but again because of the way in which the composer has utilized the instrument it becomes even more effective and is successful in creating the required atmosphere. This is a dark and somewhat bleak sounding score, it relies on low and at times half heard sounds to achieve the required goal, there is also some solo cello work within the score, normally cello is an instrument that kind of sings and is ideal to relay an atmosphere of solitude or emotion, on this occasion it is used as a darker and more sinister component and again the composer is successful in creating a richly tense ambiance via his utilization of the instrument. However the cello  returns in the cue ESCAPE, this time in a more emotional sounding role, supported by tense strings, the instrument relays a sense of emptiness and solitude, until it is overwhelmed by growling electronics that usher in choral work that is eerie and unsettling, cello returns as does the electronic sounds that rumble and growl in the background, choir again becoming prominent and all three components combine to create a piece that is certainly gripping and unnerving in its style and ambiance. This I am sure will not be the last big movie that Johannsson works on.

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