When I first saw that The Ipcress File was to be a TV series on the ITV network, I was kind of dubious. Why? Well, I think because the original movie with Michael Caine, is such a classic piece of British cinema, and of course contains that atmospheric John Barry score. But what we must do in such cases is to completely put the original movie out of our heads, yes difficult but to give the new version at least a fighting chance it’s something that must be done. It’s obvious that people of a certain age will be comparing it with the original, but we must resist this. Right from episode one I was hooked. I think that the series is well made and is so atmospheric and tense which is what The Ipcress File is all about I think that you will agree.
Ok its not Michael Caine, but Joe Cole in my opinion does a brilliant job in his portrayal of Harry Palmer. With some solid performances from Lucy Boynton and Tom Holland. The production goes into tantalising detail about the cold war and the tense and nervous atmosphere during the 1960’s that had become part of daily life with The Soviet Union facing off against the West.
It re-creates the mood that was prevalent during this period, the uncertainty, and the real danger of an apocalyptic war between The United States and its NATO allies and Russia and her allies (the Warsaw Pact). A mood that has recently has again become uppermost in the minds of many since the war in Ukraine.
The atmosphere and the nerve-jangling moods within the series are bolstered and supported marvellously by the musical score by composer Tom Hodge. He has produced a soundtrack that adds layers of tense and nervous energy throughout, the music underlining and fully supporting the action and the scenarios that are being acted out on screen. Again, forget the John Barry score whilst listening to Hodge’s brooding and affecting tones as he laces subtle musical passages into the storyline, do not try and compare the Barry work with the new score because they are both totally different, although saying this there are a handful of sounds that do hint at a style that is quite close to that of John Barry.
I say close but I suppose what I mean is that they hint of the stark and sobering style that Barry employed back in the day, I found that this came to fruition in the track Preparation for War, with subtle brass underlined with strings and breathy woods and again in A Token of Gratitude , this edgy and mysterious approach adds much to the respective scenes and builds a greater depth of atmospherics.
Tom Hodge’s score for the series is brilliantly put together and is just perfect for the storyline, it accompanies and augments rather than overwhelms or suffocates the storyline as it develops and unfolds, the music developing and opening up more fully as it progresses, adding a tenser and more threatening persona to the series.
It’s a work that is darkly affecting and filled with apprehension, at times there are hints of themes that never seem to develop fully, but this I think is a master stroke as it leaves the audience sitting on the edge of their seat or dangling in mid-air unsure of what is going to happen next. The Ipcress File soundtrack by Tom Hodge is now available on digital platforms and will be issued on Lakeshore Records as well, it is an accomplished work that is full of surprises and creates a mood that has the listener living on a knife edge. Highly Recommended.