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The Punisher
Composed, Orchestrated, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Carlo Siliotto

Co-Produced by:
Michael Gerhard

Performed by:
The Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra

La-La Land Records

Release Date:
June 15th, 2004

Also See:
Nomad: The Warrior
The Shadow
The Phantom

Audio Clips:
2. Otto Krieg (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

9. God's Gonna Sit This One Out (0:29):
WMA (188K)  MP3 (235K)
Real Audio (146K)

26. The Skull (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (267K)
Real Audio (166K)

28. Call Me "The Punisher" (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release.


The Punisher

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Buy it... if you have grown tired of standard superhero music from Hollywood and seek a simple but refreshingly different approach to the heroic tragedy of this concept with diverse instrumental colors and Mediterranean romanticism.

Avoid it... if variations on superhero cliches are tiresome to your ears no matter how uniquely they are repackaged, especially if their instrumentation isn't deep enough to yield the gravity you expect for the genre.

The Punisher: (Carlo Siliotto) First appearing as an auxiliary character in a Spiderman comic in 1974, Frank Castle would eventually gain his own comic series and international fame in the mid-1980's. His story being one of emotional torment, Castle is a former decorated Marine who abandons his service when his family is gunned down in cold blood, adopting the persona of "The Punisher" while becoming an expert freelance crime fighter. For the 2004 film adaptation, some of the facts of the original comic were twisted to suit a more modern age, but the table is still set for Castle to become his own superhero of sorts and, in this case, take down the wealthy Florida crime family (and John Travolta, quite entertainingly) which wrongly killed his own. The most important aspect of the Castle character remains intact: his ability to fight as a superhero without any magically unnatural superhero powers. He relies simply upon good hand to hand combat tactics and a mastery of weaponry in order to seek his revenge, an urban version of John Rambo in many regards. Conversely, on the other far end of the spectrum of humanity is Italian composer Carlo Siliotto, a man in his mid-50's at the time who, as he humbly stated, spends most of his time sitting at a piano composing music. It was the mere luck of the phenomenon known as "the distinctive demo tape" that landed Siliotto on the film version of The Punisher. Writer and director Jonathan Hensleigh (in his directorial debut after writing screenplays for several major summer action hits) claims that of all the demo tapes received for The Punisher, Siliotto's entry, an excerpt of a theme from his 1992 score for Flight of the Innocent, was not only different from all the others but also seemed to capture the tragic but equally heroic spirit of the title character. Siliotto, originally an arranger of popular Mediterranean songs, wrote dozens of scores for mostly European films in the 1990's and 2000's, and The Punisher was his first venture into the large stage of mainstream American cinema in a while. He was immensely enthusiastic about this opportunity and therefore put considerable effort into creating a lasting musical identity for Frank Castle. By no means did the composer ultimately write a masterpiece of complexity for The Punisher, but in the simplicity of the score's constructs and raw performances comes a refreshing distinction of good and evil defined in incredibly disparate and clear tones.

The hero's theme in The Punisher is an amalgamation of major and minor key ideas from every genre cliche and other hero themes that had come before, all filtered through an oddly romantic Mediterranean sense of despair. Its performances are often focused solely on the primary melody, without regard for counterpoint, depth of instrumentation, or even the layering of its own instrumentation. The solo trumpet for the war veteran, joined by a flute for a sense of innocence, yields to a string interlude that sounds like cookie cutter genre fare. And yet, it's the kind of simplicity of focus that a man like Castle perhaps needs, and the theme, no matter your regard for its rather sparse layering and depth, will be floating around in your head for quite some time after you hear it in the film or on album. What Siliotto has done with The Punisher is create an environment in which the standard techniques of the superhero genre flourish in their own excess, nurtured by their assembly from the point of view of a Hollywood outsider and his sense of care in preserving the strictly orchestral nature of the entire package. For instance, if you take a cue such as "Castle's Loneliness" (misspelled on the score album packaging), you hear the rolling sounds of lower woodwinds a la Danny Elfman and the broad strokes of brass whole notes in a supporting role a la Basil Poledouris, and, in the subsequent "Call Me 'The Punisher'" cue, you hear a cello lament lost romance in a fashion typical of a Rome street corner love story long gone. These defining moments throughout the score are what give Siliotto's music for The Punisher such grip for its surprisingly simplistic substance. A sense of propulsive rhythm does not escape Siliotto, greeting listeners with marching drums in "Otto Krieg" (along with the usual operatic solo female vocal that seems mandatory in this generation), determined string, piano, and guitar rhythms in "Setting a Trap" and "Joan's Suffering," and one outstanding finale performance of the title theme in "The Skull." A female vocal and pipe organ announce the start of battle with grand style in "God's Gonna Sit This One Out." A toll of a bell and distant wail of an electric guitar signal the hero's entry into an enemy lair ("Entering the Fort") with adequately cool suspense. The synthetic elements are well handled in the score, emulating the effect of the pipe organ in efforts to not only place the score in contemporary times but also give the assassination and superhero professions a quasi-religious element. Occasional saxophone solos are welcome genre newcomers as well.

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The most unexpected aspect of the music for The Punisher is its pleasant overall demeanor, the tender piano theme for Castle's family and other softer applications appearing several times throughout the score during contemplative moments. The aforementioned hint of Italian romance prevails in The Punisher at times, a strange but strikingly effective approach to the tragedy of the story. Even the "Massacre" scene is scored less with the horror of the moment and more with the dramatic agony that results from it. Entire five-minute sections of the score can pass by with the elegance of Siliotto's easily digestible piano writing, and you can then traverse into a cue of stealth and killing without the inconvenience of a jarring interruption by brass, percussion, or other element. On the whole, the score doesn't overwhelm you with its power or complexity upon first listen, but its strong character more than compensates for the lack of orchestral depth in many of the main thematic performances. There are downsides to the score that require exposure, foremost the fact that the sparse depth of orchestration will bother some listeners. The recording sounds as though it resulted from only 50 players, and the prominent mixing of low brass (and especially blurting tubas at times) doesn't help that impression. Likewise, the family theme in the score is oddly reminiscent of Nino Rota's immigrant theme from The Godfather Part II, and the interlude to Castle's theme is a distinct foreshadowing of melodic material from Siliotto's fantastic 2007 score for Nomad: The Warrior (a work that solves the problem with sparse instrumental depth). Hearing parts of The Punisher performed with greater intensity by a larger orchestral and choral ensemble could place it in historically rare territory should a re-recording ever be a possibility. On album, the lacking moments are campy at the worst and addictive at best, and the greatest strength of The Punisher is the surprising loyalty that Siliotto has shown to the cause of orchestral action scores. With the film's controversial adaptation of the original story and a song album released upon its release, general expectations about the underscore were initially bleak, but Siliotto's effort is highly commendable, and his hour of material on the subsequent score album from La-La Land Records (one of their earlier ventures) is easily palatable in its entirety and highly enjoyable in individual cues. A mild rock song and the inclusion of the opera piece "La Donna E' Mobile" from "Rigoletto" round out the score album's presentation. It's a shame that The Punisher did not lead to a bevy of deserved offers for Siliotto in the international mainstream thereafter. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

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   Re: HELP
  colin -- 10/19/05 (8:31 p.m.)
   Re: The (original) Punisher
  Chris -- 10/17/05 (11:46 a.m.)
  VZ -- 8/27/05 (10:03 p.m.)
   Re: Main theme
  NX-28379 -- 7/17/04 (11:34 a.m.)
   Back to the good old days
  Fernando Giménez Moren... -- 7/7/04 (8:48 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 67:41

• 1. The Punisher (0:56)
• 2. Otto Krieg (3:14)
• 3. Unusual Resurrection (1:40)
• 4. Moving (3:09)
• 5. I Can't Believe I'm Home (1:23)
• 6. His Whole Family (1:27)
• 7. The Massacre (5:45)
• 8. Death and Resurrection of Frank Castle (1:47)
• 9. God's Gonna Sit This One Out (3:57)
• 10. Ice Lolly and Meat (1:28)
• 11. You're Gonna Help Me (1:24)
• 12. Entering the Fort (1:58)
• 13. About Your Family/Setting a Trap (3:11)
• 14. A Bomb for John Saint (1:08)
• 15. Good Memories Can Save Your Life (1:13)
• 16. The Thugs (1:30)
• 17. The Torture (3:12)
• 18. Elevator and Headache (1:07)
• 19. A New Family/Joan's Suffering (3:34)
• 20. Quenton's Glass Home (1:32)
• 21. Killing a Best Friend (1:43)
• 22. You Don't Understand... End of a Dark Lady (2:34)
• 23. She Took the Train/Punishment (1:47)
• 24. The Arrow (1:48)
• 25. Both of Them (1:32)
• 26. The Skull (2:34)
• 27. Castle's Loneliness (1:35)
• 28. Call Me "The Punisher" (2:23)
• 29. Jealous One - performed by J.C. Loader (3:52)
• 30. La Donna E' Mobile from 'Rigoletto' - performed by Peter Dvorsky (2:06)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes detailed information about the score and film, including notes from the composer and director. The album incorrectly lists total time as 65:37 (seemingly omitting the opera song at the end in the total).

  All artwork and sound clips from The Punisher are Copyright © 2004, La-La Land 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 7/3/04 and last updated 9/22/11. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2004-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.