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Section Header
Frida
(2002)
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Co-Produced by:
Elliot Goldenthal

Conducted by:
Stephen Mercurio

Co-Orchestrated by:
Robert Elhai

Co-Produced by:
Teese Gohl

Label:
Universal Classics

Release Date:
October 22th, 2002

Also See:
Talk to Her

Audio Clips:
2. The Floating Bed (0:32):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

10. The Journey (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

14. La Bruja (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (249K)
Real Audio (155K)

24. Burn It Blue (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

Availability:
Regular U.S. release.

Awards:
  The score won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. The song "Burn It Blue" was also nominated for an Academy Award.









Frida

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Buy it... if you seek one of the most effectively authentic compilations of original and traditional Mexican music to exist in the form of a soundtrack.

Avoid it... if you expect to hear more than a few faint hints of Elliot Goldenthal's better known avant garde mannerisms in this uncharacteristic work.



Goldenthal
Frida: (Elliot Goldenthal) One of the surprise sensations of 2002 was Frida, a motion picture biography of controversial Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. As a 20th Century icon in the painting world, the life of Kahlo was an extraordinary tale in character, and the film accurately paints a picture of her struggles and triumphs in life and death. The story depicted in this production is true to the artist's life to such a degree as to detail not only her great art, but also her bisexuality, communist beliefs, and horrific personal difficulties with accidents and health problems. Led by Salma Hayek, the ensemble of actors for the film (many of whom not listed in advertisements) is magnificent, and the entire project was met with an outstanding response from critics and arthouse film enthusiasts alike. As complex as the film is, the music for the project would be an even more daunting task. Director Julie Taymor looked no further than her husband, Elliot Goldenthal, to compose the score and a handful of new songs to be integrated with the use of traditional songs (both in source-like employment). With an absence of really strong Hispanic composers in the United States working for major projects at the time (except for, perhaps, Lee Holdridge), the choice of Goldenthal was intriguing beyond the logical husband-wife connection. His style of brooding avant garde modernism didn't make the veteran of stage, concert halls, and movies an immediate candidate for the job, but his talent for diversity proved more than enough for the project. His efforts for Frida earned him both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his score, likely just missing another Oscar for his beautiful finale song, "Burn It Blue." The year of 2002 had no shortage of small scale, intimate scores, but Frida excelled beyond all others in its ability to produce an emotionally engaging balance of score and related songs that transcends the typical boundaries of original music most often heard in Hollywood. Goldenthal's work for his wife's film is a compilation of songs and score that is both intimate and huge in scope at the same time.

The soundtrack's expansive reach is countered by moments of introversion and contemplation that exist in the same style of writing, creating a remarkably cohesive whole. Goldenthal employs a nucleus of several acoustic instruments native to the style of Mexican and greater Central American circles, including Mexican guitars, classical guitars, Mexican bass guitars, an accordion, Mexican harp, marimba, and glass armonica. Because the guitars turned out to provide more than adequate lyricism and rhythmic movement, Goldenthal adds only a small orchestral ensemble of primary strings to the mix. Also of vital importance to the construct are several vocal performances that very tactfully blend the motific ideas in the score and songs together seamlessly. Goldenthal explained at the time that it was a difficult task to capture the "spirit of Mexican music" since it varies so much around different regions of the country. However, his choice to stay true to the standard simplicity of rhythms and themes in Mexican music (a documented trait of the heritage of authentic Mexican music) translated into success. He states with humor, "The few times I tried to reach for more complex harmony and structure, the movie kicked me out with pointy Mexican boots. These ideas remain on my studio floor under a pile of empty Corona bottles." For people who cannot tolerate accordions, rest assured that they are only present at the forefront of two short cues, and one of them is as accompaniment to a great outburst of the score's main instrumental theme in "The Journey." The score sequences are pleasant and lively on the whole, with only the "Suicide of Dorothy Hale" and the gruesome "La Cavalera" (back to back) showing signs of the Goldenthal's more familiar brooding mannerisms. Otherwise, there is nothing to connect these fantastic Latin-flavored cues with Goldenthal's larger body of work. Given that the Frida album was immediately selling out in nearly every store and ranked very highly worldwide upon its release, this originality was probably a favorable turn of events regardless of what qualms established Goldenthal collectors had (and still harbor) about the work.

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As interesting as the score selections (which appear scattered throughout the album) may be, so too are the songs. Traditional songs are a vital part of past and present Mexican culture, and they are central to this soundtrack as well. Goldenthal pays close attention to the indigenous songs that Kahlo would have probably listened to herself, based on era and subject matter. Chillingly, one of Frida's lovers was legendary singer Chavela Vargas, now in her 80's and a performer of new material for this film. The album presents a comparison of her performances forty years ago with her performances of the same songs today. Goldenthal composed a few original songs heard in the film, including material for Lila Downs and Caetano Veloso, whose voices grace the film with their spectacular authenticity. The album is very true to the music heard in the film, which is a rarity in soundtrack releases these days. The score and songs are seamless in their continuity, and although the film and album become more somber as they reach their conclusion, they both end with excellence. The duet "Burn It Blue" is a lovely and compelling compilation of Goldenthal's themes from the score, with additional harmonious development to create an elegant and strong finish to a diverse, emotional roller coaster of an album. That suite-like song was alone responsible for much of the magnificent response to the music for Frida (and consequently its album). The coordination of music, as well as the often spectacular recording quality of the songs, makes this album a definite winner. Its only weakness is the occasional shift back to older studio sound quality. An awards promotional CD with only the score selections and "Burn It Blue" exists, and while this presentation includes three additional score cues, it somewhat defeats the authenticity of the commercial album's presentation of the film's broader range of music. The enhanced features of that Universal product include video and text interviews with Goldenthal, Taymor, and Hayek about the music, as well as musical excerpts from the film. Overall, the texture and rhythmic breadth of this score is outstanding, and if you're only familiar with the composer's avant garde experimentation, Frida will cause you to gain an enormous amount of respect for the reach of Goldenthal's talents. *****   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Elliot Goldenthal reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 16 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.05 (in 15,474 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


Regular Average: 3.29 Stars
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 52:44


• 1. Benediction and Dream - performed by Lila Downs (2:31)
• 2. The Floating Bed (1:29)
• 3. El Conejo - traditional, performed by Los Cojolites (2:29)
• 4. Paloma Negra - traditional, performed by Chavela Vargas (3:17)
• 5. Self-Portrait with Hair Down (1:09)
• 6. Alcoba Azul - performed by Lila Downs (1:36)
• 7. Carabina 30/30 - traditional, performed by El Poder del Norte (2:43)
• 8. Solo Tu (1:22)
• 9. El Gusto - traditional, performed by Trio Huasteco Caimanes de Tamuin (2:18)
• 10. The Journey (2:56)
• 11. El Antifaz - traditional, performed by Liberacion, Miguel Galindo, Alejandro Marehuala, and Gerardo Garcia (2:28)
• 12. The Suicide of Dorothy Hale (0:48)
• 13. La Cavalera (1:40)
• 14. La Bruja - traditional, performed by Salma Hayek and Los Vega (1:57)
• 15. Portrait of Lupe (2:13)
• 16. La Llorona - traditional, performed by Chavela Vargas (2:22)
• 17. Estrella Oscura - performed by Lila Downs (1:48)
• 18. Still Life (1:31)
• 19. Viva La Vida - performed by Trio/Marimberos (2:16)
• 20. The Departure (2:13)
• 21. Coyoacan and Variations (2:34)
• 22. La Llorona - traditional, performed by Lila Downs and Mariachi Juvenil de Tecalitan (2:20)
• 23. Burning Bed (1:08)
• 24. Burn It Blue - performed by Lila Downs and Caetano Veloso (5:26)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The CD is enhanced with interactive music videos and interviews. The insert contains extensive information about the music for the film, including a lengthy note from Goldenthal, lyrics to the songs, detailed credits, and a picture of Goldenthal with Julie Taymor. It shouldn't be surprising to note that while Taymor looks animated and lively, our friend Elliot appears to be staring menacingly off into oblivion, as per usual.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from Frida are Copyright © 2002, Universal Classics. The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/7/02 and last updated 3/1/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2002-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.