Saturday, June 19, 2010

The cinema's primal scream

Alfred Hitchcock's “Psycho” turns 50 this week, but to this day it retains its jagged modernity and jolting terror. Much of its power comes from Bernard Herrmann's music, a score as iconic as the film itself. The shrieking dissonance of “The Murder,” surely the most imitated and instantly recognizable film cue, is the cinema's primal scream. It is deeply embedded in our movie-going subconscious, instantly evoking Norman Bates's stabbing knife and Marion Crane's helpless cries... That Herrmann used only strings, normally a Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more startling.

-- “The Sounds of Violence,” in the Wall Street Journal

And--the “moody astringency” of Herrmann's music would change not only Hollywood, but also Broadway, “as the lush idiom of Rodgers and Hammerstein gave way to the dark attenuations of Stephen Sondheim, whose 'Sweeney Todd' is a homage to Herrmann.” Read the rest here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Classic. The music, the scream and the vulnerable state of being in a small shower room with no means of escape. Brilliant direction, too.

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