I have for a long time been meaning to write about the music for the movie STARDUST which was composed by Ilan Eshkeri, this large scale fully symphonic work is a soundtrack that I have returned to numerous times over the years and also have sat and watched the movie over and over and found it entertaining each time. Its an enjoyable fantasy swashbuckler and the score is as magical and exciting as the story line and the adventure that is unfolding on screen, The composer fashioned a beautifully melodic and dramatic soundtrack for the movie and it is in my very humble opinion a contemporary score but posses that sound that atmosphere and that rich and lush musical persona that we associate with days gone by in film music history, it is grand and powerful, wistful and romantic but above all it is an inspired and affective soundtrack that one will never tire of. Released in 2007 the movie and the score are still as attractive and fresh as they were when I first heard them, it is an accomplished and also a polished and wonderfully inventive score, the composer employing dark and driving strings which at times are accompanied and supported by pounding percussion and mysterious sounding themes that entice, engulf and fully engross the listener. The composer said of the film and the score.
“Stardust was my second film with director Matthew Vaughn. He gave me the script before the film went into production and the first piece of music I wrote was to one of Charles Vess’ illustrations in the original graphic novel. The illustration is called flying ship and the music is called flying vessel. I was writing on the set of the film which was really unusual and fun. I found it really inspiring to walk onto the set which was magnificent and awe inspiring. I wrote many themes for the movie but many of these didn’t make the final score. I worked closely with the band Take That on the song for the film RULE THE WORLD. The final minute of the film’s score is an intro to the song based on Gary Barlow’s chords. There are also elements of the song which relate to the score. ‘Take That’ were amazing to work with”.
The small English village of Wall conceals a mysterious secret, because through a gap in a wall that surrounds the village is the entrance to the Kingdom of Stormhold, which is realm filled with magic and what many think are fantastical creatures such as Unicorns. The Kingdom is filled with Witches and spells, it is a realm that is as beguiling and fascinating to mere Mortals as it is dangerous and evil. Tristan Thorn is a young inhabitant of the village and to impress his young lady vows to cross over into Stronghold to recover a falling star for her and if he returns She in turn promises to marry him. To the Young man’s surprise the falling star is more than that but is a celestial Princess who’s name is Yvaine. She is a fiesty individual and soon makes it quite clear that she is not beat pleased at being knocked out of the sky and brought down to earth and subsequently kidnapped. After a while Tristan and Yvaine realise that it is not only Tristan that wants to have the falling star as many others join in the hunt for it. Soon the unlikely couple find them selves pursued by Sky Pirates with their cross dressing Captain (Robert De Niro-in a tutu), warring heirs to the throne of the Kingdom and a trio of evil witches who plan to capture Yvaine and cut out her heart so they may eat it and rejuvenate their bodies and looks, giving them eternal youth and life.
Tristan has to fight on all sides and battle against swords, deception and sorcery in this exciting and exhilarating adventure romp.
The composers score lends much to the action scenes and also gives much support and enhancement to the romantic scenarios and adds greater depth and atmosphere to the movie as a whole, the thundering percussion and blaring horns in cues such as LAMIA’S LAIR for example is stunningly commanding and fearsome. The composer also gives us a fearful and foreboding piece in the cue LAMIA’S INN, which at first begins in a somewhat light mood, but soon develops into something a lot more sinister as the cue progress’s where we are treated to a slowly building ominous motif that slowly and deliberately increases in both tempo and volume into a booming and unstoppable tour de force for strings, low woodwind and percussive punctuation. I cannot recommend the score and the movie enough, with its impressive cast and fantastical settings and storyline, it is now I think a classic.
THE EXCEPTION, is a riveting World War II thriller that is filled with espionage and romance in equal measure, the story focuses upon a German Soldier Stefan Brandt portrayed by Jai Courtney as he embarks on a mission to investigate exiled German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II played wonderfully by the talented actor Christopher Plummer. The Kaiser has taken up residence in a secluded mansion in The Netherlands, and as Hitler’s Nazis are taking over Holland, the country’s authorities are concerned that Dutch spies may be watching the Kaiser. As Brandt begins to infiltrate the Kaiser’s life in search of clues, he finds that he is slowly but surely being drawn into an unexpected and passionate romance with Mieke (Lily James), one of the Kaiser’s maids whom Brandt soon discovers is secretly Jewish. When Heinrich Himmler (Eddie Marsan), Head of the SS, decides to come for an unexpected visit with a large platoon of Nazis in tow, the stage is set for a breath-taking showdown, as secrets are revealed, allegiances are tested, and Brandt is forced to make the ultimate choice between honouring his country and following his heart. It is a gripping and absorbing movie and one that will keep audiences interested and entertained throughout, the musical score is by composer Ilan Eshkeri, who is in my opinion one of the leading lights in film music composition, his score for STARDUST still amazes and enthrals all who listen to it for the first time and holds the attention of collectors who have had it within their collection since its release.
Eshkeri’s score for THE EXCEPTION contains some of the most beautiful and attractive themes that I have heard in a while, many of which are performed by piano, the instrument lending much to the poignancy and emotiveness of the music. The delicate and fragile sounding themes which are quite simple in their make-up seem to be even more haunting when both piano and cello combine to create a touching yet solemn style and sound that certainly hits the emotional spot wonderfully. The score also contains a harder and more martial sound in places which is in-keeping with the films storyline, it also has a mysterious and somewhat exhilarating air to it, with the composer developing an atmosphere that is uneasy and urgent via strings and underlining timpani, the percussive elements acting as punctuation to the string sections and being further enhanced by the utilization of piano, which although fleeting is effective and adds a sense of intrigue to the proceedings. Overall, I would say that this is a somewhat low-key score, with the composer employing just strings. piano and the timpani sections of the orchestra, the lilting and haunting themes are beautifully written and contain a richness and warmth but at the same time seem to ooze a melancholy and fragility which becomes attractive to the listener almost instantly. I am confident that this will become a firm favourite of collectors old and new. Please check it out. Recommended.
Composer Ilan Eshkeri learned to play the violin and guitar and later went on to play in a rock band. Eshkeri attended Leeds University where he studied music and English literature. During this time he also worked with fellow film composers Edward Shearmur, Michael Kamen and music producer Steve McLaughlin. Eshkeri got his break following his work on BACK TO GAYA. He was asked to score LAYER CAKE, and he later received a nomination for DISCOVERY OF THE YEAR at the World Soundtrack Awards. He has since collaborated with the director of LAYER CAKE, Matthew Vaughn, on a number of other films, including STARDUST which earned Eshkeri a nomination for Breakout Composer of the Year and won him the International Film Music Critics Association award for Best Original Score. Eshkeri and Vaughn’s most recent collaboration was the film adaptation of KICK-ASS. Eshkeri’s other notable works include THE YOUNG VICTORIA, which was nominated for this year’s Ivor Novello Award for Best Original Score, NINJA ASSASSIN, HANNIBAL RISING and producing the BAFTA-nominated score to SEX & DRUGS & ROCK & ROLL. Eshkeri has also collaborated with various songwriters including Annie Lennox and David Gilmour, and has worked with Take That. Continue reading Ilan Eshkeri→
This is the latest offering from the young and very talented composer Ilan Eshkeri, who first caused a stir in the world of film music via his tremendous soundtrack for STARDUST. Since this foray into the film music arena the composer has been involved with many well know motion pictures that have grabbed the cinema going public’s attention and done moderately well at the box office. CENTURION contains a fully symphonic score and is one of those works that grows upon you after a few listens, there is no doubt it is a powerful and exciting creation that not only contains driving and ominous sounding themes but also treats us to quieter more melodic and haunting tone poems that sit alongside the more dramatic compositions with relevant ease, all of which combine to generate not only a rewarding listening experience but a score that fits the actions and events Continue reading Centurion→
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