Recently I have been re-visiting scores and soundtracks that I probably did not give a fair chance when I first heard them or added them to my collection. I think we have all done it, got a soundtrack and literally skipped through and thought, Not, impressed. So, whilst going through a handful of these scores that I dismissed without a fair hearing I was delving through my collection, and invariably one comes across items that are wonderful but because of the way things are in these fast-paced days of work, work and more work, one has not listened to in an age, or so it seems. So, one score I came across that I had not aired for a long while was INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE by composer Elliot Goldenthal, now this is a score that I have always adored, but as I say for some reason or reasons I have not listened to for a while. I always remember hearing that the film would be scored by George Fenton, a composer who I had a lot of time for and also one who had collaborated with the films director Neil Jordan many times, most notably HIGH SPIRITS which is still a score that has an infectious air to it and THE COMPANY OF WOLVES which contained a great main theme and a highly atmospheric score. Unfortunately, or fortunately which ever way you look at it, Fenton’s score was not used for the film, but he did receive a credit at the end of the movie for source music. Goldenthal’s score is a superbly lyrical one and at times verges upon the operatic and at times has a religious sound to it, its sweeping themes not only being affective in their support of the images and story on screen but remaining entertaining and interesting away from the movie it was intended to enhance. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE is a film and a score that I hold in high esteem, it is a smorgasbord of sounds and themes, these motifs and musical passages are mesmerising and alluring and draw the listener in before enveloping them in a rich and romantic sound, the score is filled with a grandiose sense of drama and foreboding. Its lush and opulent sounding passages are for want of a better word hypnotic and are considered by many to be innovative and iconic.
Goldenthal’s dark and ominous score is perfectly suited to the malicious and virulent central character Lestat played by Tom Cruise (in my opinion his best role). The music caresses and ingratiates each scene, at times the composer utilising spidery sounding harpsichord to send icy chills through the listener as in LESTATS RECITATIVE which for me has shades of Bruno Nicolai’s Count Dracula and THRONE OF FIRE soundtracks. On other occasions he brings into the equation bellowing brass and driving strings to create pace and express a sense of chaos and impending doom as in LOUIS REVENGE, which is not only powerful and frantic but still manages to contain some melodious touches as it descends into a fearsome piece that. Then there is a slightly lighter side in the form of SANTIAGO’SWALTZ which is a whimsical piece for woods, strings and piano.
Lavish strings underline certain scenes and give these a greater atmosphere and depth, the introduction to BORN TO DARKNESS for example and the heartrending and beautiful MADELINES LAMENT which is emotive and poignant but has an underlying atmosphere of apprehension, and oozes uncertainty. The composer builds tension and a taut and menacing sound in ARMAD RESCUES LOUIS with spiky violin solo, and thundering percussion which is a treat.
The music and the images go hand in hand Goldenthal’s score becoming an integral part of the movie and I think it would be difficult to imagine this film without it. This is one of the soundtrack Masterpieces of the 20th century and a score that has stood the test of years as it is still as original and fresh as it was back in 1994. Listening to the opening cue LIBERA ME is an enriching experience, the voices and the boy soprano performances are flawlessly angelic yet at the same time threatening and hearing the growling brass and dark strings of THEATRE OF VAMPIRES makes one realise that this is indeed not just a score but a Magnum Opus. A soundtrack that everyone should own.