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My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn

By Phil Blanckley • March 5th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
My Week With Marilyn (CD)
Sony Classical

Release date: November 28th, 2011
Running time: 58:50 minutes

Composer: Various

My Week with Marylin is the first major feature to be directed by Simon Curtis, and follows aspiring filmmaker Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) after his journey to London to find employment. He eventually manages to land a job working on Lawrence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branagh) next production, The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). He is tasked with finding Marilyn and her husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) a place to stay whilst in England.

Colin forms a relationship with wardrobe assistant Lucy (Emma Watson), however the more time he begins to spend with Marilyn when her husband leaves England, the more he and the people around him realise he has a growing infatuation with her.

The film, based on two books written by the real Colin Clarke, one being a set of diaries and the other a memoir of his alleged relationship with Marilyn Monroe, encapsulates some hectic and often troublesome times for her, and leaves Colin to deal with his own personal issues.

My Week With Marilyn – Soundtrack

I’m not a big fan of 50’s music personally, and I already had my preconceptions about the soundtrack before I had heard it and had seen the film. Don’t get me wrong, my taste in music is very eclectic; however the thought of track after track of Swing, Rock and Roll and Jazz didn’t particularly thrill me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Although it does contain a lot of music from the period, it also contains original score, much of which was created by American film composer and orchestrator Conrad Pope, who has previously been credited with composing soundtracks for films such as The Matrix (1999), Stuart Little (1999) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), as well as orchestrating for films such as Jurassic Park (1993) and The Polar Express (2004).

The main musical motif is established in the first track, Marilyn’s Theme, composed by French composer Alexandre Desplat, and is based on a simple five note rising and descending melody. World famous pianist Lang Lang, who also performs on several tracks throughout the score, performs the opening piano solo. The melody is basic, yet distinguishes emotion through its simplicity. It displays the character of Marilyn and the fragility of her personality.

TRACK LIST:

  • 1. Marilyn’s Theme
  • 2. ‘When love goes wrong, Nothin’ Goes Right’ & ‘Heat Wave’
  • 3. Colin Runs off to the the Circus
  • 4. Colin Joins the Circus/Mr Jacobs
  • 5. Driving through Pinewood
  • 6. Paparazzi
  • 7. Colin and Vivian
  • 8. Memories Are Made Of This (Dean Martin)
  • 9. Rushes
  • 10. Lucy
  • 11. Uno, Dos, Tres
  • 12. Arthur and Marilyn
  • 13. Marilyn Alone
  • 14. Arthur’s Notebook
  • 15. Vivian Screens Marilyn
  • 16. The Getaway
  • 17. You Stepped Out Of A Dream (Nat King Cole)
  • 18. Eton Schoolyard
  • 19. Autumn Leaves (Nat King Cole)
  • 20. Overdose

Pope has worked with composer John Williams in the past orchestrating several of his scores, and his influence can clearly be heard throughout the score. Colin Runs Off To The Circus instantly reminds me of the main theme from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) whereas Driving Through Pinewood could easily be a forgotten track from Home Alone (1990).

Paparazzi uses combined woodwind and brass to develop the main melodic theme to create a feeling of glamour and grace in an epic orchestral excerpt, before a diminuendo to a short high piano motif, again displaying the fragility of Marilyn. The track then turns direction to become a jam of percussion, creating a complete contrast. This track is one of my personal favourites, and the transition in style flows extremely well.

Arthur’s Notebook and Vivian Screens Marilyn are beautiful tracks with delicate woodwind and string solos, which showcase the emotion and feel of the scenes in which they are used perfectly. Towards the end of the score, Remembering Marilyn reprises the original piano theme in extended version, and recapitulates the journey we have taken throughout the film.

The soundtrack also includes Michelle William’s version of several Marilyn Monroe classics, such as When Love Goes Wrong, Nothin’ Goes Right & Heat Wave and That Old Black Magic, as well as featuring other songs from the period including Nat King Cole’s You Stepped Out Of A Dream and Dean Martin’s Memories Are Made Of This.

My Week With Marilyn – Soundtrack

I was dubious as to how well the score would gel with the film, however it does so extremely well. This film would not have worked with a soundtrack of either musical style alone, but the combination of both perfectly compliments the on screen story and creates a soundtrack that can quite easily stand alone, but is at its best when combined with the film. Pope has obviously been heavily influenced by many of the composers he has worked with in the past, and this has worked in his favour. The use, development and recapitulation of a simple five-note melody are demonstrated masterfully in this score.

It is an emotional journey, which allows us to delve into aspects of the personal life of Marilyn Monroe whilst still establishing the feeling of the 1950’s. This soundtrack is definitely worth a listen, and will appeal to a wide niche of listeners.

Phil Blanckley

Phil Blanckley

Phil is a 27-year-old classically trained musician from Sheffield with qualifications in Popular Music, Classical Music and a BA (Hons) in Creative Music Technology and Sound Recording. He likes nothing better than locking himself in the studio and composing music of all genres.

Phil became interested in composing after learning how to play the Cello and Clarinet at a young age, and has never looked back since. His favourite composer is Danny Elfman, whose unconventional harmonies and rhythms in scores such as Edward Scissorhands still manage to bring a tear or two to his eye.

You can find him on Twitter @PhilBlanckley.

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