Film Score Report

By Alex Ross for The Rest Is Noise on January 18, 2011

Oscar season is upon us, and I thought I'd mention two recent movie scores that I particularly liked. One is Hans Zimmer's music for Inception, with its colossal augmentation of Edith Piaf's "Non, je ne regrette rien"; I noted it last summer. Also praiseworthy is Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's score for The Social Network, which does a stealthy job of dictating the mood of the film—its of-the-moment mixture of intellectual frenzy and emotional dread. When I first saw the movie, I felt a gnawing sense of unease, and only when I watched it again did I realize how economically Reznor and Ross instilled that feeling. During the title sequence, when the humiliated Zuckerberg character walks back to his dorm and sets about exacting online revenge, you hear a simple combination of musical events: a quiet, downward-loping piano figure and a faintly abrasive electronic buzz. It gives the impression of something seeping in from the ether, an ambient infection, which happens to take hold of the young man in the frame. The main-title music returns at crucial moments, notably when Zuckerberg, under interrogation by lawyers, witheringly answers the question "Do you think I deserve your full attention?" No less effective are the brutal, catatonic dance tracks that play at intervals and the disconcerting electronic manipulation of Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" that accompanies the Winkelvoss twins at the Henley Rowing Regatta. I wonder if David Fincher, the director, was thinking back to the creepy whistling in Fritz Lang's M when he asked Reznor to make use of that piece. In this context, the Grieg carries a grim message: the "old way of doing things" is itself degraded, a copy of a copy, and there is no going back.

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