“I KEEP MY PROMISES!”: The Music of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

As a child growing up, I was always into the story of Frankenstein. Between the movies and book, it was, and still is, one of my absolute favorite oft-told tales. So on November 4th 1994, during the tenth year of my existence, when Francis Ford Coppola’s production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was released, I could not have been more excited. 

Made as a companion piece to his earlier film, 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was directed by Kenneth Branagh from a script credited to Steph Lady and Frank Darabont, but was revealed later on to be the product of Branagh, who rewrote it once he came onto the project. Coppola and Darabont have since disowned the final product, as it no longer resembled the original vision they had in mind once Branagh took over, with Darabont going on record to say this about the final version: “the best script I ever wrote and the worst movie I’ve ever seen.”

 

He added: There’s a weird doppelganger effect when I watch the movie. It’s kind of like the movie I wrote, but not at all like the movie I wrote. It has no patience for subtlety. It has no patience for the quiet moments. It has no patience period. It’s big and loud and blunt and rephrased by the director at every possible turn. Cumulatively, the effect was a totally different movie. I don’t know why Branagh needed to make this big, loud film … the material was subtle. Shelley’s book was way out there in a lot of ways, but it’s also very subtle. I don’t know why it had to be this operatic attempt at filmmaking. Shelley’s book is not operatic, it whispers at you a lot. The movie was a bad one. That was my Waterloo. That’s where I really got my ass kicked most as a screenwriter … [Branagh] really took the brunt of the blame for that film, which was appropriate. That movie was his vision entirely. If you love that movie you can throw all your roses at Ken Branagh’s feet. If you hated it, throw your spears there too, because that was his movie.

Now, I love Frank Darabont. But sorry man, I’m on the side throwing the roses. I love this movie. It has been one of my favorites since I first saw, and continues to be such. The direction, the cast, the effects, the cinematography, all truly phenomenal in my opinion. Just an absolutely sumptuous motion picture that Branagh put together.

And one of its greatest attributes is the spellbinding score by Patrick Doyle. Simply speaking, this is one of my all time favorite scores, and one of the finest  I’ve ever heard in my life. This was the score that taught me just how important music can be to a production. Compositions so beautiful, they give me goosebumps while simultaneously moving me to tears. Dazzling, dashing, rousing in every way. An absolute triumph among soundtracks.

I mean, I can go on and on, but there are not enough words in the English language to help me convey just how amazing this score is. So, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite pieces. I wasn’t able to find a complete version of the soundtrack online for streaming (other than on YouTube) but If you really like what you hear, there are a couple of physical copies on Ebay for decent prices. In the meantime, enjoy these picks!

 

 

 

 

Posted by The Cinema Drunkie

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