Soundtrack Review: The Village
By Douglas Strassler Jan 29, 2005, 15:43 GMT
He has also worked quite well director M. Night Shyamalan, using some incredibly subtle technique to add more dimension to The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. Shyamalan's latest offering, The Village, was a mild mess, but Howard's score is almost a minor masterpiece.
Howard makes several wise choices to enhance the film's atmosphere, including hiring young violin prodigy Hilary Hahn to work with him. Other key elements of his ensemble also include the flute, horns, strings, and percussion. One trick upon which insists Shyamalan insists is his predilection for changing tone in a heartbeat with one quick jump cut, and Newton uses all of these instruments to back these moves up and heighten the change in beat. This is immediately evident in the opening track, "Noah Visits," opening with Hahn's solo which ebbs and flows for a while until ending quite abruptly.
Another example is the third track on the soundtrack, "The Bad Color," which begins with flutes that harmonize slowly with percussion, only to be shockingly interrupted by the jagged sound of strings. By the end of the track, though, the menace in the violin work has subsided to a more elegiac sound. Howard also adds in such ambient sounds as wind chimes, chains, and
howling animals. The effect goes from tranquil to jarring back to tranquil, but it leaves the viewer feeling a little less at ease with what they are seeing, a smart move on the part of Howard and Shyamalan, who as always seem to be on the same page here.
Howard uses the violin with great results in "I Cannot See His Color," "The Gravel Road," and "The Vote," all of which get the audience's blood flowing without them even realizing the reason why. Howard makes an even smarter choice with the tonal harmony of "What Are You Asking Me?" Here, he employs Hahn's violin work with the piano stylings of Randy Kerber. "The Gravel Road" is also backed by beautiful woodwind cues.
In a larger frame of mind, however, Howard also takes time to let his score grow and develop, in conjunction with Shyamalan's meandering camerawork that slowly lets his audience take in the titular village and their quotidian, seemingly peaceful life, slowly peeling away layers to show the intensity and fear with which the members of the village dwell. This is immediately
evident in "Those We Don't Speak Of," in which Howard adds percussion and brass to the violin/piano score, upping the gut feeling of tension (though the track does end on a serene, positive note). The tracks "The Forbidden Line" and "It Is Not Real" also include ominous sound effects like pounding percussion and extended bass string notes to add eerie tension.
Howard's work is certainly deft and suspenseful. It's just a shame that such a score could not have supported a better film.
You can view a full track listing in our database.
The soundtrack is available via Amazon.