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Terrence Malick's A HIDDEN LIFE (2019) - Score by James Newton Howard

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I'm pretty sure there's not a thread for this so I decided to make one in honor of the film's premiere this morning at Cannes. 

 

I didn't learn until today that James Newton Howard wrote the score! (the news was apparently known since last month but I must have missed it) However, it is not yet clear how much of his score was used in the final film. One review of the film mentions "the orchestral blasts of Bach, Beethoven, Handel and Dvorak on the soundtrack," so clearly at least some parts were tracked with classical selections. 

 

Anyway, very excited for this film. Hopefully there's at least one theater near me that shows it. Initial reviews seem to generally be positive. 

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Regardless of how the JNH score is treated, I'm looking forward to both film and score!

 

My colleagues are in Cannes right now, and attending the premiere. Should be getting reports from them soon. Malick himself seems to be absent, though?

 

Incidentally, this seems to have been an unusually strong Cannes year -- much like 2016, when I was fortunate to attend. Totally envious of everyone who got to be at the center of it all.

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This is, I believe, the first Malick film in some time to have original music attached to it, done by a composer that I'm actually familiar with. I haven't seen any of Malick's recent films, but based off early reactions and reviews, this looks to be his best received since Tree of Life, a movie that I'll admit I have a hot and cold relationship with. 

 

I'm curious about the score too. I'm sure Malick will use it as he sees, as he always does, frustratingly enough, but it could be JNH's most interesting score in ages. It's certainly nice to see him doing a much smaller different film, after all those blockbusters, and big studio films. 

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This is a Malick movie so the score will be extremely secondary to existing music. I sometimes wonder why would composers sign up for his movies. Though of course the opportunity to work with such a great director can be enticing but they should know that their score is never going to shine in the film. 

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19 minutes ago, Fancyarcher said:

This is, I believe, the first Malick film in some time to have original music attached to it, done by a composer that I'm actually familiar with.

 

Familiar with, perhaps, but there's (quite beautiful) original music by Hanan Townshend in most of his recent films. Especially love the TO THE WONDER score. But I guess TREE OF LIFE is the last time he used a "top" composer.

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2 minutes ago, Thor said:

 

Familiar with, perhaps, but there's (quite beautiful) original music by Hanan Townshend in most of his recent films. Especially love the TO THE WONDER score. But I guess TREE OF LIFE is the last time he used a "top" composer.

 

That has a top composer but barely has a score. Almost all the memorable and consequential music in that film is pre-existing.

 

But I am also glad to see Malick's return to narrative film-making. He absolutely lost me when with his last 3 feature films.

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2 hours ago, TheUlyssesian said:

This is a Malick movie so the score will be extremely secondary to existing music. I sometimes wonder why would composers sign up for his movies. Though of course the opportunity to work with such a great director can be enticing but they should know that their score is never going to shine in the film. 

The composers that have worked with Malick wrote some of their best music for his films. Horner was the only one foolish enough to not realize how his score was going to be treated in the final cut.

 

2 hours ago, Thor said:

Familiar with, perhaps, but there's (quite beautiful) original music by Hanan Townshend in most of his recent films. Especially love the TO THE WONDER score. But I guess TREE OF LIFE is the last time he used a "top" composer.

Indeed. Hanan also worked on The Tree Of Life. His music for the Malick-produced The Vessel is my favorite score of his.

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3 minutes ago, Koray Savas said:

The composers that have worked with Malick wrote some of their best music for his films. Horner was the only one foolish enough to not realize how his score was going to be treated in the final cut.

 

Indeed. Hanan also worked on The Tree Of Life. His music for the Malick-produced The Vessel is my favorite score of his.

 

Again, there is much beautiful music in Tree Of Life. I remember much of it. But Desplat? Literally not a note of his music I can recollect. I guess might be the same for most people. 

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The film is Malick's usual brand of pictorial hollowness but i remain optimistic for the JNH. It seems as if Malick makes a final decision for the needle drops of his record collection late in the game, so Howard may have had a chance to score pivotal scenes and not just bridging pieces.

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More like pictorial fullness. There's always loads of meaning in every single static shot. Curious to see, however, if this returns him to a slightly more traditional narrative than his last few films.

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To be fair, although I disagree fundamentally with pub on the filmmaking philosophy of Malick in general, this new film can still be disappointing, of course (reviews so far have been very mixed). Looking forward to seeing it, if and when it premieres here, but first it has to be picked up by a Norwegian distributor.

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Ironically he caused some of my favourite scores by cherished composers (even if he bastardized them). So i think a project like this is still a great chance to get something meaningful from Newton Howard instead of another rehash, Hollywood style. If anything, Malick deals in big issues instead of plot points and that seems to inspire composers (which is good and much needed right now).

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Absolutely. On paper, it has the potential to be JNH's best since THE VILLAGE. But I've said that before, with promising projects, so I'll wait with cautious optimism.

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Horner's The New World is a beautiful concept album and I couldn't care less about the film. 

 

Unfortunately I do tend to find analyses like Thor's a bit on the overanalysing side. Many shots in film are beautifully composed but I think to suggest that there's a hidden meaning in every shot is going too far, and just serves to make the person feel intellectual. Sorry Thor :)

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14 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

Horner's The New World is a beautiful concept album and I couldn't care less about the film. 

 

Unfortunately I do tend to find analyses like Thor's a bit on the overanalysing side. Many shots in film are beautifully composed but I think to suggest that there's a hidden meaning in every shot is going too far, and just serves to make the person feel intellectual. Sorry Thor :)

Even Malick’s biggest detractors love his visual prowess.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Koray Savas said:

Even Malick’s biggest detractors love his visual prowess.

 

 

 

Lol at Clooney getting all excited about getting to rag on Malick.

 

And yea, it's very tempting for every average maverick to over-analyze/over-intellectualize every passing Malick shot. But when one chooses to give in to Malick's poetry, there is actually a lot emotional power to his best films.

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59 minutes ago, thx99 said:

The FYC has been posted on the Fox Searchlight page.  14 cues, including a mix of JNH's score and existing classical pieces, and totaling over 69 minutes of music.

 

Oooh. Count me intrigued. I had totally forgotten JNH had done this.

 

[Edit: Listening now! Holy Batman on a Popsicle Stick, this sounds brilliant -- possibly looking at his best since THE VILLAGE here?]

 

[Edit 2: Sorry if this has been posted in this thread before, but has a soundtrack been announced for this? Any dates etc.?]

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Just listened to it, here's my first impressions:

 

I always dreamed about a JNH/Malick collaboration, and he writing an epic romantic score for him like Morricone's Days of Heaven or Horner's The New World, but within his own particular style. This... well, it's not exactly what I was expecting.

 

It obviously a little similar to The Village, but to be honest it reminded me more of Defiance mixed with the Creedence music from the beginning of the first Fantastic Beasts (like "Credence Hands Out Leaflets") and a theme that sounds a little like The Healing from Lady in the Water. I know this movie is set on WWII, and apparently he wanted to score the harsh living conditions of that period, using the somber violin and cello solos to great effect.

 

I guess this will grow on me after listening to it a few times. That said, I loved the track "Return".

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Screw "epic, romantic score"; I've been waiting for JNH to explore this kind of post-minimalist romanticism that composers like Max Richter and Abel Korzeniowski excel at. This seems to be it; he just needed the proper, "artsy" film to work with. For me, this was INSTANT love. Doesn't happen often.

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It's more classical in nature, he riffs around a 6-note violin figure that represents the movie's lofty human spirit ideas - it's like Horner's 'Iris', a tone poem. And all the better for it.

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I recall that, and a descending figure that made me think of a "classicized" Kung Fu Panda. That, and some more Gorecki and Pärt. All quite lovely in film.

 

 

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Two tracks from the end of the score tracks. It's beautiful :o

 

What's nice is that it's not just another Village despite the amount of violin solos. It's a little bit like parts of Snow White and the Huntsman in orchestration, but more positive.

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Here is the cover and tracklist of the official OST, as revealed by Film Music Reporter:

 

vca-98.jpg

 

1. A Hidden Life (2:50)
2. Israel in Egypt, HWV 54, Part I, No. 16 ‘Chorus: And Believed The Lord’ – Handel (4:25)
3. Surrounded by Walls (2:53)
4. Return (2:41)
5. Indoctrination (2:12)
6. Morality in Darkness (3:13)
7. Love and Suffering (7:44)
8. Tabula Rasa: II. Silentium – Handel (15:46)
9. Hope (2:30)
10. Descent (6:25)
11. Czech Suite in D Major, Op. 39: I. Allegro Moderato – Dvorak (3:54)
12. Kleines Requiem für eine Polka, Op. 66: IV. Adagio Cantabile – Gorecki (6:25)
13. Knotted (3:39)
14. There Will Be No Mysteries (4:42)

 

Yeah, it is EXACTLY the same program of the FYC, which is a bummer, I was hoping maybe the OST would have a few unreleased tracks that the FYC didn't have. But maybe this is pretty much everything JNH recorded?

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Thanks for the cover. I've had it in my iTunes collection for a while, but just with the film poster.

 

It's still a bit early to tell, but I think this is shaping up to be my favourite score of 2019. Annoying, however, that here's still no word from any Norwegian distributor on when the film will hit theatres over here, if at all. 

 

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I wonder what are the odds of JNH getting nominated for this score this year.

 

I think Thomas Newman for 1917, Williams and Desplat for Little Women are almost guaranteed to get a nomination. The other candidate could be Hildur Guðnadóttir for Joker, which would fit the Academy trying to get more diverse nominations, for women, people of color, etc.

 

This leaves one space open, which will be a tight race: Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders for Ford v Ferrari, Randy Newman for Marriage Story, Nathan Johnson for Knives Out, Bryce Dessner for The Two Popes, Nate Heller for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Michael Abels for Us...

 

So yeah, it will be tough, but I am hoping for JNH. His violin previous violin based scores were nominated, and the movie was acclaimed, so I think there is still a chance.

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2 hours ago, Edmilson said:

Here is the cover and tracklist of the official OST, as revealed by Film Music Reporter:

...

8. Tabula Rasa: II. Silentium – Handel (15:46)
...

Yeah, it is EXACTLY the same program of the FYC, which is a bummer, I was hoping maybe the OST would have a few unreleased tracks that the FYC didn't have. But maybe this is pretty much everything JNH recorded?

 

Given that the composer attribution error for track 8 on the FYC site (it's not Handel, it's Arvo Part) was carried over to the Film Music Reporter post, I have my suspicions about this tracklist actually being from the OST.  Granted, it could end up bein identical to the OST with the Handel/Part issue corrected, but for their post, I suspect Film Music Reporter just pulled the data from the FYC site.

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43 minutes ago, Edmilson said:

I wonder what are the chances of JNH getting nominated for this score this year.

 

I think Thomas Newman for 1917, Williams and Desplat for Little Women are almost guaranteed to get a nomination. The other candidate could be Hildur Guðnadóttir for Joker, which would fit the Academy trying to get more diverse nominations, for women, people of color, etc.

 

This leaves one space open, which will be a tight race: Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders for Ford v Ferrari, Randy Newman for Marriage Story, Nathan Johnson for Knives Out, Bryce Dessner for The Two Popes, Nate Heller for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Michael Abels for Us...

 

So yeah, it will be tough, but I am hoping for JNH. His violin previous violin based scores were nominated, and the movie was acclaimed, so I think there is still a chance.

 

I think Randy Newman has a good chance. The music is pretty good and has its presence felt throughout and the film itself will be a quite popular with the academy.

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