The most fascinating soundtracks provide a gateway into the world of its characters. When a film’s music wraps you in a blanket of sound that allows you to immerse yourself—incorporating the senses and heightening the experience—in a way that fully completes the director’s artistic vision and brings the story to life, that’s when a soundtrack becomes truly memorable. And if there’s anyone who knows understands the importance of symbiosis between filmmaker and composer, it’s the ingenious master of mood, the visionary maestro of cinematic sound, Clint Mansell.
Best known for his work with director Darren Aronofsky, the two have become entwined, creating some of the most amazing amalgamations of sight and sound on film from the paranoid and heartbreakingly hypnotic Requiem for a Dream to the classically disturbed and beautiful Black Swan. “Music is like another character in a film, I think. I’ve heard people say that the best scores are the ones you don’t hear—I think that’s rubbish! Betty Blue, pretty much anything by Morricone or Badalamenti—come on, don’t tell me you never heard those when you were watching the films!” says Mansell, who has now lent his talents to Park Chan-wook’s first English-language film, the fantastical gothic thriller Stoker.
Out February 26 via Milan Records, Stoker: the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is a sonic pleasure. The 18-song album creates a brilliant emotional/psycholigcal landscape for Chan-Wook’s film, evoking both the bone-chilling feeling a light breath on the back of your neck in the dark and the sensual touch of an erotic waltz on the keys. Bookended by haunting yet delicate monologues about coming into adulthood, the soundtrack transports the listener into the headspace of its characters and the feelings that possess them. Mansell employs his affinity for both industrial and classic sounds to create something entirely arresting and powerful, both other-worldy and tactile.
“I hope the music plays a very important role of enhancing and supporting the story and the characters,” says Mansell, who went on to say that he wanted to “create something elegant and yet powerful and emotional for the score. To capture a young girl blossoming in to adulthood, finding out who she is and what she wants was the challenge.”
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, and Jacki Weaver, Stoker revolves around India (Wasikowska), a musically inclined girl whose father dies in an car accident on her 18th birthday. After her father’s death, her Uncle Charlie (Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother (Kidman). Soon after his arrival, India comes to suspect this mysterious and charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage and horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
Described as everything from Hitchcockian in its suspense and Malick-esque in its quiet wonder, the film is also enhanced by the work of iconic composer Philip Glass, whose “Duet” we’ve already gotten a taste of, and Emily Wells’s wonderful “Becomes the Color.” Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood’s “Summer Wine” rounds out the soundtrack to complete its essence of dark corners of the mind and hallowed halls, filtered through an anachronistic sense of delicacy with a sharp bite.
Clint will be performing two shows to support the release of Stoker in New York City on April 3 and 4 at the Church of Saint Paul the Apostle (get your tickets now before this one sells out!) and at The Orpheum in LA on April 6. Stoker creeps into theaters this Friday (3/1), so we’re pleased to share the soundtrack streaming in it’s entirety to get you in the suspense-filled mood of the film. Enjoy.