TWO SHADES OF SCARLET.

SCARLETT AND THE SCARLET LETTER BY JOHN MORRIS.

We often associate the late composer John Morris with the films of Mel Brooks, and why not he did after all score BLAZING SADDLES, THE PRODUCERS, SPACEBALLS, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and SILENT MOVIE, as well as the Brooks films production of the David Lynch directed, THE ELEPHANT MAN. There is little doubt that Morris was an exceptionally talented composer, but sadly was at times underatted by both critics and film music collectors alike. Morris scored several movies and TV productions that often do not get mentioned, maybe this is because the said productions were not that popular with audiences of both the big and small screens. However, the music that the composer penned for them was as always excellent. Take THE SCARLET LETTER for example and also SCARLETT, both I am sure were TV movies, but both contained highly thematic scores and had a luxurious and dramatic musical persona.

The latter starred Timothy Dalton who took on the role of Rhett Butler, which of course is a role we all associate with Clark Gable in the epic drama and romance movie GONE WITH THE WIND. Morris certainly took his cue from composer Max Steiner for this sequel to the classic tale of the American civil war, with lush and melodious themes adorning the production, Morris utilising to maximum effect strings and brass that are supported by delicate and subtle woods, which come into their own conveying a sense of melancholy and romance. The composer also includes proud sounding brass at times that gives the score a golden age sound. The cue THIS WAS TARA being particularly poignant and inspiring.  The compact disc was a round for quite a while in many retail outlets but has since become a little more difficult to obtain. However, I would recommend that you attempt to take a listen to the score, which is available on various digital platforms.

THE SCARLET LETTER is another lush sounding work from the composer, again an American TV movie, it is not to be confused with the Demi Moore, Gary Oldman feature film of the same name, which was eventually scored by John Barry. Morris fashioned a lilting and thematic work for the production, again as in SCARLETT the composer created highly melodic sounding compositions written for woods, brass, percussion and led by the string section. The core theme is a sombre but at the same time rich one, and the composer reinvents this as he utilises it throughout the score, this central thematic property becoming the foundation or backbone of the work. So two John Morris scores both for TV movies, that are filled with an abundance of themes and purvey a sense of the romantic, check them both out.

ANGELICA.

I have always been attracted to the music of composer Zbigniew Preisner, his scores for FAIRYTALE A TRUE STORY, WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN attributes of Ennio Morricone, I think it was THE SECRET GARDEN that was the first score of his I ever heard by the composer, it was a film that was shown on channel 4 in the UK and was introduced by David Puttnam, who did refer to the composer as the new Morricone. THE SECRET GARDEN for me at times evoke the fragility and the melodic artistry of Morricone in places, but then we hear a style and a sound that can only be that of Preisner. It is a distinct an alluring sound that the Maestro weaves and also one that after listening to lingers long within your sub-conscious.

Caldera records are about to release the composers score for the 2015 movie ANGELICA, as we many of his other scores we can hear a lightness and also a overwhelming sense of emotion and poignancy, but this is tale that is dark and chilling, and the composer brings into play a suitably ominous sound that creates foreboding and unsettling atmospheres. Directed by Michael Lichtenstein, ANGELICA is based upon the novel by author Arthur Phillips which was first published in 2007. The story is set in Victorian England and conveys the tale of a young woman Constance who falls in love with a successful scientist. After they marry and eventually have a baby girl, who they name Angelica. During the birth Constance comes close to death and is told by her doctor that she can no longer have sex and risk having another child because she would most certainly die and leave her daughter without a Mother. Constance becomes depressed and falls into darkness and despondency. As she becomes more and more on a downward path with this depression Constance becomes even more protective of her daughter, attempting to shield her from a sinister ghostly predator that begins to make its way through the house late at night. ANGELICA is a mesmerising ghost story which deals with, desire, repression and all the consequences that both entails. Preisner’s, score is not filled with themes for each individual character, instead the composer charts the story and supports the unfolding drama and underscores it with various themes that are effective and affecting.

The score has to within it’s make up dark sounding passages, which although melodic are chilling and unnerving, there is also  a tense but melodic mood that lingers throughout, the music is at times sophisticated and graceful underlining and supporting the period in which the story is set. There is a simple and delicate sound to this score, which is attractive, mysterious and beguiling. The compact disc is the 38th Caldera release, and it is a release that you should own.