SPELLBOUND – Miklós Rósza
Original Review by Craig Lysy
The 1945 Alfred Hitchcock mystery/suspense film Spellbound dealt with the new field of psychoanalysis and the inner workings of the human mind. The story offers testimony to Hitchock’s supreme mastery of suspense, camera work, and cinematography. The stellar cast included Ingrid Bergman playing Dr. Constance Peterson, a psychoanalyst working at the Green Manors mental hospital and Gregory Peck playing her love interest, the dashing Dr. Edwards. This is at its crux a love story. We see a cool and analytical Constance lose her professional detachment and immediately fall in love with Dr. Edwards upon his arrival. Sadly unsettling aspects of his personality slowly begin to slowly reveal themselves. As the story unfolds she discovers that her love interest is really an imposter, an outsider trying to falsely portray himself as Dr. Anthony Edwards. Driven by love, Constance seeks to illuminate his path back to sanity by trying to resurrect repressed memories without shattering him in the process, as such the story is a classic commentary on the eternal conflict of heart vs mind.
According to Rózsa, David O. Selznick, the producer and Alfred Hitchcock, the director asked for “a big love theme coupled with the strange sound for the paranormal.” As such, Rózsa penned one of the most sumptuous love themes in film score history and introduced the unique sound of the musical instrument the Theremin to emote the paranormal. Interestingly enough, it has been revealed ex post facto that Hitchcock did not like the score! Yet it is not without irony that when Spellbound was nominated for an Oscar and eventually won, both Selznick and Hitchcock sent Rózsa letters that were effusive with praise. Most interesting is the fact that Spellbound serves as the only collaboration between Rózsa and Hitchcock. For the score Rózsa provided four primary themes; foremost is the Love Theme, a grand, lush and sweeping romantic string born identity expressed passionately in both it’s A and B Phrases. This timeless theme offers testimony to Rózsa’s supreme gift for melody. In my judgment it is one of the most beautiful and stirring love themes in film score art.
Juxtaposed to this is the Mystery Theme, an eerie and unsettling eight note descending chromatic statement by solo Theremin, which also permeates the score. Its otherworldly sound fully captures the paranormal requested by the Director. The film’s narrative involves Constance solving a the riddle, which is Anthony, and Rózsa created two intersecting themes to emote this; the repeating eight note Riddle Theme carried by violins, bass and glockenspiel echoes, and the Investigation Theme, which consists of a repeating major key chordal statement with a four-note violin counter. Rózsa uses the later to inform us of Constance’s mind working to unravel the mystery that is Anthony.
Folks, this innovative score was groundbreaking and serves as a milestone in the history of film scores. Rózsa’s inaugural use of the Theremin to emote a ‘not of this world’ sound to the score was perfectly conceived and executed. The score provides four outstanding themes with the lush love theme standing the test of time as being one of the most beautiful ever written. Rózsa’s dramatic writing and interplay among the themes served to produce several very complex and outstanding cues and offers us compelling testimony to his exceptional talent in interpreting the film’s emotional narrative. This historic score is an essential item for any collector, I highly recommend it and assign it my highest rating – a masterpiece.
For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a Youtube link to a wonderful suite, which features the love theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrDC_LuifkU
A comprehensive review of the score may be reached by the following link: https://moviemusicuk.us/2013/07/24/spellbound-miklos-rozsa
Buy the Spellbound soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store
- Main Title/Foreward (3:13)
- Green Manors (0:51)
- First Meeting (2:11)
- The Picnic (2:01)
- The Awakening/Love Scene/The Dressing Gown/The Imposter – Parts 1 & 2/The Cigarette Chase (16:49)
- The Letter (0:30)
- The Empire Hotel (1:22)
- The Burned Hand – Parts 1 & 2 (2:29)
- The Penn Station (2:44)
- Railway Carriage (1:16)
- Honeymoon at Brulov’s/The White Coverlet/The Razor – Parts 1 & 2/Constance Is Afraid (10:03)
- Constance and Brulov – Parts 1 & 2 (4:15)
- Gambling Dream/Mad Proprietors Dream/Root-top Dreams (2:37)
- Dream Interpretation – Parts 1 & 2/The Decision (6:10)
- Train To Gabriel Valley (1:23)
- Ski Run/Mountain Lodge (5:51)
- Defeat (3:15)
- Constance’s Discovery (2:04)
- The Revolver (3:05)
- End Title (0:59)
- End Title (short version) (0:24)
Running Time: 73 minutes 32 seconds
Intrada Excalibur Collection MAF-7100 (1945/2007)
Music composed by Miklós Rózsa. Conducted by Allan Wilson. Performed by The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra. Original orchestrations by Miklós Rózsa and Eugene Zador. Album produced by Douglass Fake.