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A Dangerous Method

A Dangerous Method

By Phil Blanckley • February 20th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Sony Classical

Release date: February 6th, 2012
Running time: 62:19 minutes

Composer: Howard Shore
Film review

Academy award winner, Howard Shore, has teamed up once again with his long time friend and director David Cronenberg to create A Dangerous Method (2011), marking a fifth decade of collaboration.

A world away from Cronenberg’s horror/thriller cult classics such as Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986) and Dead Ringers (1988), and adapted from the 2002 Christopher Hampton stage play The Talking Cure, based on the 1993 book A Most Dangerous Method: the Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein by John Kerr, A Dangerous Method follows the relationships between Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen).

Jung, a protégé of Freud, who longs to achieve his greatness and stature, is portrayed as a modern Swiss citizen who although has a personality more at home in the eighteenth century likes to live his life to the full. Freud is portrayed as the total opposite, thus leading to conflict between the two and their style of psychiatry, which in turn begins to pull their relationship apart. When Jung begins an intense sexual affair with Sabina, one of both Jung and Freud’s patients, it begins to tear their friendship even further apart.

A Dangerous Method – Soundtrack

Adapting the orchestral style from Cronenberg’s earlier films, Howard Shore’s score for A Dangerous Method is much less intense, based around the operas composed by Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883).

The opening track from the score, Burghölzli, begins with a beautiful piano solo, which firmly cements the main melodies of the film, leading into a crescendo of high strings and sharp brass, which leads into the second track, Miss Spielrein, which develops on the themes established in the first track. It is another short piece with piano, strings and brass with prominent melodies.

A few tracks later, Sabina is a beautiful combination of low tremolo strings, and a graceful woodwind and high strings. At 57 seconds in length, it is the shortest track of the score. Otto Gross turns things much more sinister with drawn out phrases and a piano solo at both the beginning and the end sandwiching a string section in the middle. The end piano solo is more dissonant, however is played rubato, which also gives it a much more romantic and emotional feel at the same time. A boat with red sails appears to reprise this piano solo and develop it further, again only being a short track in length at 1:01 minutes in total.

End of the Affair begins with a beautiful Clarinet phrase, which progresses with what sounds to be a string quartet taking the melody. Letters sees the return of the piano solo motifs, and again this piece develops in a sinister way to begin with but also withholds an emotional feel.


  • 1. Burghölzli
  • 2. Miss Spielrein
  • 3. Galvanometer
  • 4. Carriage
  • 5. He’s Very Persuasive
  • 6. Sabina
  • 7. Otto Gross
  • 8. A Boat with Red Sails
  • 9. Siegfried
  • 10. Freedom
  • 11. End of the Affair
  • 12. Letters
  • 13. Confession
  • 14. Risk My Authority
  • 15. Vienna
  • 16. Only One God
  • 17. Something Unforgivable
  • 18. Reflection
  • 19. Siegfried Idyll (performed by Lang Lang)

Something Unforgivable sees the return of more of the scores main motifs, again beginning with a piano solo leading into strings. There is a short period of silence before the strings return along with the woodwind, displaying a much more triumphant melody in contrast to the rest of the score which seems to me to be a kind of mini variation of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 in D Minor, Movement 4 (more commonly referred to as ‘Ode to Joy’). Reflection, the final offering from Shore on the score, brings back the main melodies and material from Miss Spielrein and other previous tracks, with a fantastic orchestral composition including gentle piano solos and sweeping strings.

A full 32.04 minute performance of Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll by world famous Chinese pianist Lang Lang ends the score fittingly. It is clear to see that Shore has based the whole of the musical score around this signature piece, and was highly influenced by the style of Wagner throughout. Lang Lang’s performance creates a completely different mood and feel for the piece, which was originally written for Chamber Orchestra. Personally, I still prefer the original orchestration, but maybe that’s the Cellist in me talking!

A Dangerous Method – Soundtrack

Overall and in comparison to Howard Shore’s previous works, the A Dangerous Method soundtrack is a complete contrast. It is a low key affair, with often short tracks which are slow and although will appeal to the Classical musician, might not appeal as much to the everyday film score fanatic. The whole album in itself could be a continuous classical work (maybe I’ll try to edit it that way and see how it works for my own personal pleasure sometime). Having Lang Lang on board will definitely help Shore with this one, and Lang Lang’s fans buying the soundtrack may also get them interested in Shore’s works!

This soundtrack works for me and it works for the film. And if you’re not a fan of Classical music, just listen to one of the shortest tracks – there’s quite a few to choose from!

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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