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INTO THE WILD – Michael Brook and Eddie Vedder

September 21, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An acclaimed drama directed by Sean Penn, and based on a true story, Into the Wild charts the life of Christopher McCandless, a privileged upper-middle-class American kid from a wealthy family who, despite graduating from University as a top student and a gifted athlete, abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness – and in the process became the poster child for anti-establishment anti-materialists across the world. Penn’s film stars Emile Hirsch as McCandless, Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt as his parents, and Jena Malone, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn and Hal Holbrook in supporting roles.

For the music for his film, Penn commissioned to very different artists, to compose both score and a number of original songs. The score is by Canadian guitarist and composer Michael Brook, whose previous works include Affliction, An Inconvenient Truth, and a number of guest appearances on Hans Zimmer soundtracks; the songs were written and performed by Eddie Vedder, guitarist and lead singer of the groundbreaking alternative rock band Pearl Jam.

Brook’s score is a plaintive reflection of the self-imposed loneliness of McCandless’s life, and of the great American wilderness: the entire score is dominated by solo violins, solo guitars, and pianos, combined with a modern rhythm section and an occasional synth backing. It’s an unassuming ensemble, but the textures are nice, and although the tone of the score is generally consistent throughout (playing like a collection of instrumentals than a developed score), some cues are standouts – notably the unexpected harmonica in “Walking/Waterskier”, the bluesy “The Combine & Wayne”, the romantic “Swimming & Horses”, and the melancholy, string quartettish “Where Are They Now?”. By the end of the album, though, the oneness of the score does become slightly monotonous.

Eddie Vedder’s songs are rooted in a similar sonic world, and have been receiving plaudits from numerous sources; Vedder’s gruff, rebellious voice suits the political standpoint of the film, and his multi-instrumentalism is a nice companion to Brook’s work. The 7-minute finale, “Guaranteed”, has been acknowledged by many to be the standout song, and recently picked up a Golden Globe nomination. Both albums are complimentary of each other, but traditional score fans will likely find little to appeal to their sensibilities.

Rating: **½

Track Listing:

  • Lord Byron (0:59)
  • Best Unsaid (2:14)
  • Carving (2:30)
  • Timekeeper (1:59)
  • Burning the Proof (1:17)
  • Walking/Waterskier (1:12)
  • Pacific Crest (1:18)
  • Carte Noir (3:03)
  • Birds, Snow, Ice (0:43)
  • The Combine & Wayne (1:33)
  • Carthage Grain Sale (1:14)
  • Free Satellite and Hunting Advice (2:21)
  • Wayne’s Arrest (0:54)
  • Chris’ California Trip (2:40)
  • The Rapids (1:19)
  • The Canyon (0:25)
  • Childhood Adventure (0:43)
  • Swimming & Horses (1:38)
  • Sea of Cortez (1:16)
  • Los Angeles at Night (2:04)
  • Violence at Home (1:45)
  • Billie & Hitchhiker (2:20)
  • Shooting the Moose (0:41)
  • Arrival at the Slabs (0:34)
  • Salvation Mountain (2:19)
  • Selling Books (0:48)
  • Chris Reads Tolstoy (1:37)
  • Falling in the River (1:13)
  • Ron Climbs Hill (0:51)
  • Starving (0:45)
  • Flood (2:09)
  • Chris Meets the Bear (1:26)
  • Where Are They Now? (1:29)
  • Chris Dying (2:04)
  • Final Heartbeats (0:52)
  • Devil Slayer (1:44)
  • Setting Forth (1:37)
  • No Ceiling (1:34)
  • Far Behind (2:15)
  • Rise (2:36)
  • Long Nights (2:31)
  • Tuolumne (1:00)
  • Hard Sun (5:22)
  • Society (3:56)
  • The Wolf (1:32)
  • End of the Road (3:19)
  • Guaranteed (7:22)

Score Soundtrack Running Time: 53 minutes 59 seconds
Lakeshore Records (2007)

Song Soundtrack Running Time: 33 minutes 08 seconds
J Records (2007)

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