THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN – Franz Waxman
Original Review by Craig Lysy
Franz Waxman’s superb seminal score for The Bride of Frankenstein is as iconic as the movie itself. It has the epic sweep of a Wagnerian opera, yet its beauty, and its genius lies within its evocative strangeness, disquieting dissonance, haunting melodies and unusual timbres. So successful was Waxman’s effort that it earned him a studio contract, and set the standard for scoring the horror genre for decades. Indeed, much of Waxman’s techniques have been interpolated into other films, most notably Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars (1938), and his approach for eerie castles firmly embedded into the collective consciousness of popular culture. What sets his effort here apart was his success, his brilliance in speaking to the complex elements of the film’s narrative; the horror, the grotesque, the sinister and the comedic. That he was able to succeed on all counts reveals genius.
Waxman was only provided a 22-member orchestra, and so had to be resourceful, using an organ (performed by Oliver Wallace) to double up on his instruments so as to enlarge its sound. He was tasked by the film’s narrative to speak to the grotesque, but also the loneliness, isolation and revulsion expressed by the characters. As such, he provided three primary themes, each contrasting and very distinctive, to flesh out the main characters. For the monster he offered a horrific, grotesque and dissonant horn declared five-note identity. Juxtaposed to this was a softer, consonant and feminine lyrical three-note identity for the Bride, and lastly he provided a dark and sinister identity for Pretorius. In addition he infused his score with a versatile array of classical idioms including a graceful minuet, a pastorale, and a marcia doloroso. But it was his ability to speak to both the horror and the comedy that served to elevate the score. Lastly, the score crescendos and achieves its apogee with the final cue, a tour de force, which supports the Bride’s creation and the all-ending cataclysm.
This classic score, one of the defining early efforts of the Golden Age and a testament to Waxman’s genius, is essential for collectors of the film score art. I have attached a YouTube link for those of you unfamiliar with this score.
Buy the Bride of Frankenstein soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store
- Main Title (1:24)
- Prologue – Menuetto and Storm (3:52)
- Monster Entrance (2:14)
- Processional March (2:16)
- A Strange Apparition/Pretorius’ Entrance/You Will Need A Coat (2:55)
- Bottle Sequence (2:13)
- Female Monster Music/Pastorale/Village/Chase (4:30)
- Crucifixion/Monster Breaks Out (3:11)
- Fire in the Hut/Graveyard (2:07)
- Dance Macabre (2:09)
- The Creation (10:14)
- The Tower Explodes and Finale (3:10)
- Suite from ‘The Invisible Ray’ (5:54)
Running Time: 46 minutes 09 seconds
Silva Screen SSD-1028 (1935/1993)
Music composed by Franz Waxman. Conducted by Kenneth Alwyn. Performed by The Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra. Orchestrations by Franz Waxman and Clifford Vaughan. Album produced by Soren Hyldgaard.