Feb 7, 2009

DOGMA music composed by Howard Shore

It's a world where Alanis Morissette is God, a descendant of Jesus works in an abortion clinic, Chris Rock is the forgotten 13th Apostle and stoner-characters Jay & Silent Bob are prophets...it's the world of Clerks & Chasing Amy writer/director Kevin Smith.
Released in 1999, Dogma, without a doubt would have controversy ready to run it down with an army of tanks going 200 miles a hour. It's satirical look into the Catholic Church and it's beliefs, were enough to cause protests all over the world (Kevin Smith even joined one himself under a pseudo-name) and an astonishing number of death threats aimed at Smith and the then film company behind Dogma, Disney. Death threats from practicing Catholics....Death Threats From The Children Of God Towards Disney?!?! That's like Mister Rogers tossing puppies and kittens out into traffic...something so very wrong.
The film itself was pro-God and pro-religious, but that was overlooked by many, as some people were so quick to label it blasphemous before they even saw the film and forgot how to look at their own views from a different angle or perhaps they just had a crucifex lodged up their ass. I still think it would have helped, if Smith included a homosexual character on the good side, to really stir the all ready overflowing pot (or maybe just a platypus...if you know what I mean Dogma-fans).
In a strange twist of events (for Smith), instead of littering the film's background music with rock songs, he opted for a more traditional style by using original orchestrated music. Enter Canadian composer Howard Shore, famous for his Oscar Award-winning Lord Of The Rings' masterpieces, The Departed, Se7en, The Silence of The Lambs and pretty much every single David Cronenberg film there is, as well as the original Saturday Night Live musical director and one of the brains behind The Blues Brothers.
While, Shore up to that point had become known for his generally dark, brooding scores, (with the exception of Tim Burton's Ed Wood), Dogma was sort of a change for him. And I mean you to take "sort of" very lightly, in a good way ofcourse.
What could of been a silly comedic score, which I loathe, Shore took a different approach and createad a melodramatic, almost epic sound for the film. It suited what would end up on screen, as Smith decided to shoot with more of a theatrical visual style for once.
The score portion of the Dogma album begins with the title track, "Dogma", a delightful little track, which slowly eases you into the mood of the album. It's almost scary horror sound sneaks up on you with with it's church bells and tense brass section and shades itself with a Bernard Herrmann Psycho-esque string section.
We are then treated to "Behold The Metatron", starting with a gothic choir, provided by the always wonderful Metro Voices, then devoloping with a church organ and a string section that drives at you as if Beetlejuice (or in this film's case, The Voice Of God) was about to appear in your bedroom.
"Mooby The Golden Calf" is an album highlight, as it was played during the scene that fallen angels, Loki and Bartleby, violently punish a room full of office executives for worshipping a false idol. With it's childish vocals, that mirror that of "It's A Small World" only not as annoying, "Mooby" is a strange creature, indeed. Fortunally the lyrics are included in the liner notes as the words are difficult to decipher from just listening to it.
"The Golgothan" creates a steady sense of dread and fear of The Shit Monster. The gothic organ is a major part on this particular track, but remains very well mixed in with the rest of the players, so you aren't immedietely drawn to it.
An ascending brass section introduces "The Last Scion", which serves as the Bethany character's theme. Although it begins with a sense of fear, "Scion" quickly evolves into a rather peaceful and mystical mood, which sounds as if Shore is toying with the Elven theme from the future "Lord Of The Rings" compositions.
"Stygian Triplets" twists back and forth with a psychotic orchestrated charge, that could please the ears of The Cryptkeeper. A fun little sweeping piece that reminds me of the first scene with The Wicked Witch in the tornado from The Wizard Of Oz for some strange reason.
The gothic organ and orchestra is really turned up for the "Bartleby and Loki" track. The pure melodrama of this piece is like heaven to my ears, it pretty much makes me want to stand on top of rocky mountain during a violent thunder storm and cackle loudly up to the sky.
"John Doe Jersey" eases in very gracefully after the previous track, as the climax approaches, the action motifs ride through better than most "serious" action movie music would. The religious tones of each theme throughout the entire score, clash back and forth, only to have some superbly composed choral work climb into the mix and completes this piece.
Finishing off the album is "A Very Relieved Deity", which continues with the heavenly chorus and orchestrations. Playing as a variation on Bethany's theme and introducing a new theme, which would serve as God's motif, this track would definately not be out of place on "The Lord Of The Rings".
While the album plays a mere 41 minutes, 35 minutes of that is given to Howard Shore's wonderful score and the other six is saved for Alanis Morissette and her original song, "Still".
This sole "rock" song opens the album and is suprisingly suiting to both the film and the soundtrack album. With it's world music sound texture and it's religiously controversial lyrics, I think Morissette holds up pretty well, like she did with "Uninvited" on the City Of Angels soundtrack. Other than those two songs, I'm not much of fan of her work.
I could of done with a longer playing time for the album, but am not sure how much music Shore actually wrote for the film, so this might be a pretty accurate presentation of the whole score.
All in all, I think that any Howard Shore fan will be fairly pleased with this early score, as would most film score collectors. So if your looking for a fun, dramatic, but not too serious, almost epic score then this Dogma's for you........unless your the President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (that's right, Little Willy Donohue, you ass, here's looking at you).


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