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Monday, June 10, 2013

Hans Zimmer -- Inception: Music from the Motion Picture

 photo 220px-Inception_OST_zps75a15daf.jpg

Inception is a rare beast, the idea film with action scenes set on a huge scale. We really haven't had one this good since Bladerunner in 1982 (I consider the Matrix trilogy to be action films with ideas, though that line of films is pretty rare in itself). Both films share a common theme: are we real? Bladerunner's Deckard hunts "replicants" of humans, but he may unknowingly be one. Inception's Cobb plunders dreams, but he himself might be dreaming. Neither film's ending is conclusive. The viewer doesn't know what the origami unicorn means, and it doesn't know if the top falls. Theme isn't the only thing these films have in common. Both film's soundtracks are a combination of organic orchestrations and synthesizers.
Vangelis' Bladerunner soundtrack is more synthesizer heavy (befitting the time of its release, and its film's setting farther in the future), and Zimmer's leans more toward his trademark percussive, symphonic bombast. Inception's score sounds most reminiscent of Zimmer's work in The Dark Knight. Though Inception's soundtrack contains less themes than The Dark Knight's, they are just as iconic as Batman's. Who doesn't immediate think of the "doom sound" at the end of track six, "528491" when they think of the film?

On an extreme nerd side-note, I feel like Cobb's character is the only one to receive a specific theme because the other characters are purposely ciphers--they are only there to help him achieve his ends, leaving open the very real possibility that his dreaming brain constructed them. As I previously mentioned, Inception: Music from the Motion Picture doesn't contain as many distinct themes as Zimmer's Soundtrack for the Dark Knight, but the music here feels a bit more complex, and most importantly, is actually pieced together as an album. This makes the listening experience far more enjoyable. While there's still that annoying out-of-film-order thing going on that one usually finds in soundtracks, these tracks flows together pretty excellently, only blurring in the final quarter. Zimmer and the album producers perform some excellent segues, particularly the electronic distortion that takes the previously mentioned midpoint "528491" into the fast-paced, world-music influenced percussion and synth/symphony combo, "Mombasa." So while Dark Knight's soundtrack might contain some higher highs, Inception's has more depth and consistency, placing both soundtracks on equal ground. Wait, I was supposed to be comparing Inception to Bladerunner. Crap. I blame this lack of review cohesion on the possibility that I am either dreaming or a robot...or both.

2010 Reprise
1. Half Remembered Dream 1:12
2. We Built Our Own World 1:55
3. Dream Is Collapsing 2:28
4. Radical Notion 3:43
5. Old Souls 7:44
6. 528491 2:23
7. Mombasa 4:54
8. One Simple Idea 2:28
9. Dream Within a Dream 5:04
10. Waiting for a Train 9:30
11. Paradox 3:25
12. Time 4:35


Neal said...

*coughs* The top wobbles at the end of Inception. Once a top does that, it is going to fall. *coughs*

Just sayin'... ;)

I don't know if I could just listen to the Inception soundtrack. It's perfectly thematic for its content and works well with it, but I don't know if I'd just want to sit and listen to it--a bit too much bombast.

I do love how soundtracks are somewhat close to the function of classical music in pop culture (not sure I'm saying that clearly). You don't hear many violins or big percussion on the radio, but soundtracks are keeping those things going, thankfully.

Nicholas said...

The wobble is debatable! Something happens, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a wobble. A small dent in the table? Haha.
Personally, I think he is still asleep. The shot of his children looking up at him is the same from earlier in the film. Then again, his wedding ring is off, though if he has deceived himself into thinking everything is over, his ring would be off, even if he is still dreaming.
The pessimist in me, which I might as well just say, the me, thinks he is asleep.
As to the soundtrack, they did a remarkably good job of sequencing it as an album. Just the right amount of bombast, and just the right amount of subtlety. It also helps that it is only 1/3 the length of the film.
Without movie soundtracks, classical music would be even more obscure than it has already become, that's for sure. I concur.