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Comments about the soundtrack for The Green Mile (Thomas Newman)
Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review

Joseph Toscano
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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review   Saturday, August 25, 2007 (6:41 p.m.) 

(The following donated review by Joseph Toscano was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in August, 2007)

The Green Mile: (Thomas Newman) This score shows Thomas Newman working, not only his most typical, but his best writing style. The music contained on this 75-minute CD strongly shouts elements from both The Shawshank Redemption and The Horse Whisperer, two previous scores by Thomas Newman which show his excellent style. Instrumental soloist credits are given inside the CD pamphlet, and this gives one an idea just how many odd instruments Newman has utilized for this score, much as he did in The Horse Whisperer. And many sections of the score are performed by swells of lush strings, as in The Shawshank Redemption. But with these redeeming qualities from both past efforts, how exactly does Thomas use them in The Green Mile? And does it hold the score up as good or, perhaps, as even one of his best?

Firstly, Thomas Newman has never been too strong at laying down themes and pronouncing them. As usual, there are one or two soft piano themes that Newman employs in the score. After a few listens, they become easily recognizable, as is the case with the two afforementioned scores. Newman also introduces a "playful" theme, complete with Shawshank-style pizzicato strings and oboes floating around. While it does create a playful mood, it seems a bit too odd at times; track 10 ("Limp Noodle") and track 12 ("Wild Bill") and just plain strange. The playful themes Newman uses just aren't as memorable as in Shawshank. On the whole, the thematics that are present in this score are forgettable. There is a main theme, yes, but it's played two or three times through the entire score. Hardly enough for a theme to be truly unifying.

Newman returns, as was mentioned, to his most typical style of composing. As such, he employs lush strings to perform certain sections of the score. These parts are as enjoyable as they are in Shawshank, but they seem to lack much in the way of coherence. A theme was created in Shawshank with the use of the strings, but here in this soundtrack, they just exist without fitting into any pattern. Sure, they sound nice, but they would sound fantastic with a Newman-esque theme to go along with them.

One thing Newman does greatly in a certain track (track 15) is to create very intense suspenseful music. He uses a snare drum, as does James Horner, to create a tense mood. And it works greatly along with the pulsating of the small orchestra. Newman creates strange noises with different instruments (and perhaps a very small use of synths) as he's done before to create mood. It works in this score as well as it did in his past efforts. As such, this score creates a downright creepy (bordering on depressing) mood.

The Green Mile has been heard before, and its previous incarnation is titled The Shawshank Redemption. The exception is that the latter was presented in a more fantastic degree, and is a more enjoyable listening experience on its own. However, Thomas Newman creates an overly stoic and creepy mood with this score, and in that, it's very effective. Very effective, indeed, in the film. But as a stand-alone soundtrack, it doesn't quite stand. ***

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