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Section Header
The Prestige
Composed and Ponducted by:
David Julyan

Conducted by:
Blake Neely

Orchestrated by:
Dana Niu

Hollywood Records

Release Date:
October 17th, 2006

Also See:
The Illusionist

Audio Clips:
3. The Light Field (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

6. A New Trick (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

15. Sacrifice (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

17. The Prestige (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.


The Prestige

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Buy it... only if you are already familiar with the atmospheric styles of David Julyan and specifically enjoyed his work in this particular film.

Avoid it... if you expect any semblance of intellect or enchantment in the score to match the story of the film.

The Prestige: (David Julyan) Film scores have often been referred to as "magical." Their effect on a motion picture can be as spine tingling, if not more so, than any or all of the other elements in the production. And yet, sadly, there have been precious few Hollywood films offered in the genre of historical magic, a seemingly perfect match for the kind of romantic orchestral enchantment many score collectors yearn to hear. Two films in the latter half of 2006 suddenly thrust the equation upon us, however, neither of which arriving with any guarantees from a widely popular industry composer. Both The Prestige and The Illusionist are enticing to film music fans because they provide an opportunity to hear a composer write a truly three-dimensional score, a work of wizardry to dazzle our ears with creative twists of intelligence and deception. For Philip Glass and The Illusionist, the pairing would entice curiosity, but for David Julyan and The Prestige, it was much more difficult to imagine how the composer's usual style would fit the genre. As with the other film, The Prestige is tale of dark cinematic mystery and suspense set in Europe at the turn of the century, though the production team and cast of The Prestige has proven to have enough of a higher profile to elevate the film to greater box office success than its competitor. The relevant aspect of the story of The Prestige to the score, aside from the obvious magical industries, is the running competition between two successful magicians after a trick gone horribly wrong shatters their previous partnership. Julyan is not only faced with the task of providing that third dimension to the mystique of the classical magician, but also has to do it in the context of an escalating battle of wills between the two men. He also had to deal with the presence of music "producer" Hans Zimmer in the process, throwing in perhaps a fourth dimension of creative discourse recommended, likely, by director Christopher Nolan, who had collaborated often with Julyan in the past, but teamed up with Zimmer for the blockbuster Batman Begins in his previous major effort.

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Anyone familiar with Julyan's career can predict where this score and this review are probably headed. The previous entry in the collaboration, Insomnia in 2002, is representative of the kind of atmospheric textures that Julyan is comfortable providing in his assignments. It's hard to imagine his usual droll, bleak tones as a functional accompaniment for The Prestige, for there is such a sharp pair of intellects on display in the film. But unfortunately and perhaps predictably, Julyan does not deviate one moment from his comfort zone, writing one of the most disappointing scores of not only 2006, but his own career. Succinctly put, this score is lifeless. It is constructed on a bed of simplistic string chords and dull electronic soundscapes, often maintaining single chords of slight dissonance for over half a minute. Thematic structure is barely attempted and motifs are not nurtured to fruition. Only occasionally, in the middle portions of the score, does Julyan insert plucked strings or stark woodwind rhythms over the top of this misty haze, but never with enough harmony to make the score any more entertaining. A sparse, solo piano provides the lone stab at romanticism in a few cues. Tension is artificially rendered, intrigue exists only in the form of the perpetual minor key, and the tempo is rarely increased for scenes of exciting visual action. The bass elements are overmixed to such an extent that a droning cue like "The Transported Man" is begging to give you a headache. Julyan concludes the score with a sudden, electronically-manipulated end in a cliche you'd expect to hear in a B-rate horror score. When you put the package together, you find absolutely nothing interesting or satisfying about Julyan's score for The Prestige, which is not a crime in and of itself. But it's so counter-intuitive for the genre that it borders on offensive. It's a score that equates the world of magic with that of a drug-induced trance, completely ignoring any development for the individual intellects competing on screen. Without the film to support it, the score is a wasteland of atmospheric mush, and after 48 minutes on album, you'll be begging for the far more engaging work of Philip Glass for The Illusionist. Julyan's sound effects here cannot compete on any level. * Price Hunt: CD or Download

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.04 Stars
Smart Average: 2.27 Stars*
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   Re: Boring!
  txnorthguy -- 11/12/07 (8:30 a.m.)
  houdini -- 2/9/07 (12:53 p.m.)
   The Descent
  Matthew -- 12/19/06 (11:42 p.m.)
   Re: Boring!
  Matthew -- 12/19/06 (11:42 p.m.)
  Eric -- 11/30/06 (1:08 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 48:21

• 1. Are You Watching Closely? (1:51)
• 2. Colorado Springs (4:15)
• 3. The Light Field (1:50)
• 4. Borden Meets Sarah (2:11)
• 5. Adagio for Julia (2:08)
• 6. A New Trick (4:29)
• 7. The Journal (2:55)
• 8. The Transported Man (2:36)
• 9. No, Not Today (2:31)
• 10. Caught (1:39)
• 11. Cutter Returns (2:13)
• 12. The Real Transported Man (2:38)
• 13. Man's Reach Exceeds His Imagination (2:08)
• 14. Goodbye to Jess (2:58)
• 15. Sacrifice (5:15)
• 16. The Price of a Good Trick (5:06)
• 17. The Prestige (1:40)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a list of performers, but no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Prestige are Copyright © 2006, Hollywood 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 11/18/06 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2006-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.