Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

Nobody, it seems, has ever heard of Stephen Gyllenhaal's 1992 deeply moving film version of Graham Swift's dark novel Waterland; the film starred Jeremy Irons, Sinéad Cusack, Ethan Hawke, and a very young Maggie Gyllenhaal. Grant Warnock turns in a spot-on performance of a young Irons, John Heard has a cameo and Cara Buono and Lena Headley both turn in creditable and brave topless performances... and for years is one of those that makes me so glad to still have a working laserdisc player as it has only just been issued on DVD, and was filmed in 2.35:1 Technovision and suffers greatly when panned and scanned. I caught it on Cinemax one night (Vanguard Cinema) and I was completely blown away by its depth and characterization.

Irons plays a high school history teacher who one day finds himself telling his students stories about their youth. These stories get rather racy, in fact, but he finds himself reaching one of his most disaffected students, played by Ethan Hawke. Through hearing the stories, Hawke begins to understand how the past is alive and through telling them Irons begins addressing issues that he and his wife had buried long, long ago. The film unfolds both stories simultaneously, one taking place in England during the World War II, the other in Philadelphia in 1974, each one giving each one new perspective, with each new revelation having additional weight as one realizes the consequences to the other storyline. This is a film about the burdens of choice, but it is also about the importance of storytelling. I would go so far as to say that the film actually works better than the book in this case, having a dignity that counters the bleakness of the novel. The end is actually quite inspirational.

This is my absolute favorite of Carter Burwell's scores. It is understated and faintly folk-oriented, one of the best examples of Burwell's ability to create 'melodic ambience.' It really got under my skin and the complete lack of any source for the music outside of the film has always been disappointing. Happily, after a few e-mails mentioning how it is my favorite score, Burwell has seen fit to post four samples on his website. This is no substitute for a full-length album (there are some very effecting moments not included), but the suite is a pretty good one and is so satisfying to have after fourteen years of waiting.
Tags: carter burwell, film music, reviews
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