Home > Reviews > THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW – Harald Kloser


dayaftertomorrowOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

2004 has proved to be a year where several composers have been given their “shot at the big time”. Among these was Austrian composer Harald Kloser, best known to date for his occasional forays into the North American market on films such as The Thirteenth Floor and the critically acclaimed TV movies such as RFK and Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story. That he was hired to score The Day After Tomorrow was surprising in that no-one expected him to be scoring this high-profile a movie without achieving some kind of success beforehand. On the other hand, director Roland Emmerich has often gambled on young, relatively unknown composers before, with great effect – he is the man who ‘discovered’ David Arnold after all.

The Day After Tomorrow is an environmental disaster film which explores the premise that global warming has spiraled out of control to such a degree that it causes the onset of a new ice age. Dennis Quaid plays climatologist Jack Hall, the man whose studies of global weather patterns causes him to predict the upcoming storm; with the help of his British colleague Terry Rapson (Ian Holm), he tries to warn the government about the upcoming disaster, who don’t want to listen to their seemingly far-fetched prophecies of terror and destruction. Meanwhile, Jack’s talented young son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) is on a field trip to New York with his friends (Emmy Rossum, Dash Mihok) when the devastating effects of the climate change begin to put the Big Apple in the Deep Freeze…

My one thought while watching The Day After Tomorrow was “how many more times is Roland Emmerich going to destroy New York?” Emmerich seems to have it in for the city that never sleeps, this time unleashing tidal waves and super-freezes upon citizens who have already been forced to endure devastating alien attacks and rampages by 100-foot tall lizards because of him. The science of The Day After Tomorrow may be a little shaky, but the film is never anything less than enjoyable, with quite marvelous special effects, and plucky performances by all the main leads.

Kloser’s score is mainly of the noble and patriotic kind, underscoring the heroic self-sacrifice and personal loss undergone by many of the main characters, and eschewing much of the celebratory flag-waving that other Emmerich films have contained. His main theme, first heard in the opening track, is a stately march for brass and percussion which – perhaps a little oddly – has a slightly funereal feel, as though it is mourning the death of the victims before they have actually died. Nevertheless, it gives an appropriately somber tone to cues such as the otherwise rather stirring “President’s Speech”. A secondary, generally sweeter theme representing the growing romantic relationship between Sam and Laura  is heard during both “Bedtime Story” and “The Human Spirit”, but it too is just a little too subtle to be truly memorable.

The action music, when it comes, is effective enough – throbbing horns in “Tidal Wave”, pounding pianos in “Blizzard”, decidedly Goldsmith-like woodblocks and xylophones in the relentless “Superfreeze” – although, much like the rest of the score, the whole thing sounds a little too restrained, a little too subdued to really raise the tempo. The credited orchestra is huge – approaching 130 players – but it sounds like half that. Perhaps Kloser just had a little too much respect for the film, and didn’t realize he was scoring a silly summer effects movie instead of a weighty drama exploring the mis-treatment of the environment by humanity as a whole. Even the finale track, “Burning Books” is quiet: no great fanfares, no big finish. It just fades away…

With this score, as well as the late summer release of Alien vs. Predator, Harald Kloser has certainly put down a marker which will allow him to bid for high profile projects in years to come. Whether he will get these jobs remains to be seen. Although competent enough, his score for The Day After Tomorrow is not of the same caliber, and has not made the same kind of impact as David Arnold’s work on Stargate and Independence Day did back in the early 1990s. As far as Harald Kloser is concerned, the jury is still out.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • The Day After Tomorrow (3:27)
  • Tornado Warning (2:00)
  • Sam! (1:18)
  • Tidal Wave (3:14)
  • Body Heat (1:50)
  • Russian Ghost Ship (1:24)
  • Hall’s Plan (0:53)
  • Rio Grande (1:11)
  • Bedtime Story (2:03)
  • Blizzard (2:18)
  • Superfreeze (3:04)
  • Cutting the Rope (3:29)
  • Because of You (2:29)
  • President’s Speech (4:20)
  • The Human Spirit (3:36)
  • Burning Books (1:42)

Running Time: 38 minutes 18 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6572 (2004)

Music composed by Harald Kloser. Conducted by Blake Neely. Additional music by Thomas Wanker. Orchestrations by Bill Boston, Frank Bennett, Benoit Grey, Larry Kenton, Jon Kull, Don Nemitz, Patrick Russ and Ceiri Torjussen. Special vocal by Carmel Echols. Recorded and mixed by Armin Steiner. Edited by Emanuele Arnone. Album produced by Harald Kloser.

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