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Section Header
The Hurt Locker
Composed and Produced by:
Marco Beltrami
Buck Sanders

Lakeshore Records

Release Date:
January 19th, 2010

Also See:
3:10 to Yuma

Audio Clips:
1. The Hurt Locker (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

3. The Long Walk (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

4. Hostile (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

12. The Way I Am (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.

  Nominated for an Academy Award.

The Hurt Locker

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Sales Rank: 85029

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Buy it... only if you want to shatter the sanity in your head with an incredibly challenging, dissonant musical extension of the sound effects used to convey the alienating suspense of the impossible circumstances in the film.

Avoid it... if you purchase your soundtracks with the intent of enjoying them, for the depressing pseudo-music for The Hurt Locker is so frightfully obnoxious that even suicidal people may find it too disturbing to put them into the right mood for killing themselves.

The Hurt Locker: (Marco Beltrami/Buck Sanders) Bouncing around the festival tour for a year, director Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker became the top intellectual thriller of the late 2009 awards season, matching James Cameron's Avatar in recognition and rewarded with nearly unanimously positive reviews from critics. Based upon the accounts of a journalist embedded with an elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit in the American Army during the early years of the second war in Iraq, the film follows the lives of members of the team as they encounter a variety of difficult, sometimes unsolvable situations in their line of duty. The film is ultimately an extremely depressing one, depicting the action of this team as addictive and leading its primary protagonist to leave his family to serve another tour of duty in the same brutal conditions. While technically masterful and intended to be as authentic as possible (being shot just outside of Iraq in Jordan and Kuwait), The Hurt Locker was not as well received by actual veterans of the war, many of whom dismissed Bigelow's story as completely unrealistic and therefore a very poor representation of the actual conditions in which similar soldiers find themselves. Nevertheless, it's the type of film that meets or exceeds the expectations of an industry thirsty for documentary-style drama from an unpopular war. Its disturbing atmosphere was an element that Bigelow wanted to be enhanced by the music for the film, and she sought a score from Marco Beltrami and his collaborative assistant, Buck Sanders, that would not interfere through the use of a sympathetic, recognizable orchestral sound. The two composers had shared screen credit twice before, Sanders responsible for some of the soundscape textures heard in Beltrami's work. Because the primary character has something of a cowboy attitude, Beltrami chose to address him with a very slight Western-style theme and instrumentation, though this material is limited to just a few minutes on album. Despite the employment of a tiny chamber ensemble for a handful of sequences, the majority of the score for The Hurt Locker contains an intentionally grating blend of electronic and organic sounds manipulated into a frightfully uncomfortable series of dissonant waves of dull sound.

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This score is undoubtedly going to raise the perpetual debate about whether music that serves as an extended sound effect should ever be released on album. Beltrami and Sanders worked closely with the film's sound effects editor to incorporate some of the production's wider soundscape directly into the music, and it should come as no surprise that both the sound effects and the score were nominated for Oscars. In reality, there was no reason to award the combined effort twice, the score never establishing much personality outside of significant manipulations of vaguely musical sounds to accompany the effects. Both erhu and voice join guitars in the task of being synthetically altered to such an extent that they are nearly unrecognizable or, at the most, intolerably applied. The score shifts from one mind-numbing series of meandering musical effects to another, sometimes erupting in explosions even more dissonant than the dusty, aimless environment maintained by every cue. Stutter effects, pitch-wavering, and inconsistent rhythmic movement (outside of frequent pairs of bass thumps) continue to keep the listener in a state of unease. The sound effects range from dull thuds deep in the bass to imitations of high range interference in a tone that will make you think that insects are buzzing around the room. Absolutely none of this material translates into a tolerable listening experience; so disturbing is this score that it's curious to ponder what type of individual could use it for the purpose of enjoyment. Even as the source of a challenging atmosphere, The Hurt Locker is so overwhelmingly depressing that those who claim its merits outside of its duties within the film probably have issues of their own to deal with. The final two-and-a-half minute cue is the only redemption, the Western electric guitar theme methodically and tragically conveying the story's bittersweet message about the addiction of war. Expect nothing in this cue as satisfying as even the most drab moments of Beltrami's stylish 3:10 to Yuma a few years prior. The rest of the short presentation on album (absent the songs in the film) is remarkable in its ability to unsettle, and although that difficult merging of sound effects and musical tones may be appropriate for the film, there is simply no reason for anyone to invest in an album that makes Cliff Martinez's Solaris seem like a celebratory overture for a bright, sunny day. Not even the best pills on the market can turn The Hurt Locker into a recommended album listening experience. * Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Marco Beltrami reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.73 (in 22 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 2.79 (in 15,925 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2 Stars
Smart Average: 2.25 Stars*
***** 16 
**** 24 
*** 55 
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* 151 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Just seen the Film..
  Solaris -- 6/5/10 (3:31 p.m.)
   Re: Disrespect In A Score Review?
  Scott W. Williams -- 3/10/10 (8:38 a.m.)
   Re: Disrespect In A Score Review?
  Paul -- 3/2/10 (7:07 p.m.)
   Re: Solid effort, but... strange
  Flo -- 3/2/10 (5:18 p.m.)
   One More Thing!
  Scott W. Williams -- 3/2/10 (3:25 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 31:07

• 1. The Hurt Locker (1:52)
• 2. Goodnight Bastard (4:09)
• 3. The Long Walk (1:43)
• 4. Hostile (3:25)
• 5. B Company (2:29)
• 6. Man in the Green Bomb Suit (2:03)
• 7. There Will Be Bombs (2:07)
• 8. Body Bomb (2:34)
• 9. Bleeding Deacon (1:16)
• 10. Oil Tanker Aftermath (3:32)
• 11. A Guest in My House (3:08)
• 12. The Way I Am (2:29)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a note from the director about the score and film.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Hurt Locker are Copyright © 2010, Lakeshore Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the 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 2/19/10 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2010-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.