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Comments about the soundtrack for Magic (Jerry Goldsmith)

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A film composer with a heart
• Posted by: Stewar Sesuande   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Sunday, December 27, 2009, at 10:10 p.m.
• IP Address:
• Now Playing: Qunicy Jones' score for the "The Deadly Affair"

I was exceedingly happy to be able to purchase at last this never-before-issued recording of Jerry Goldsmith's original musical score for the film, "Magic". I saw it when it was first released in 1978 and Mr. Goldsmith's musical imagination simply stunned me, made me drop my popcorn, stole my heart and ran away with it.

For me, the music is very emotional, moody and mysterious as it illuminates the tangled mind and fluttering heart of the main character, Corky, a highly talented yet troubled ventriloquist played with aching sensitivity by Anthony Hopkins. Though the film has some startling, unnerving and disturbing violence in it, I feel that the musical score is most successful in those places where there is no violence, particularly in scenes that reveal Corky's profound loneliness and insecurity. Mr. Goldsmith's use of a harmonica in the score is an unexpected, absolutely startling and novel musical effect that effectively conveys sadness and romantic yearning with a brooding, subdued turbulence. The evanescent glimmers of warmth stirring in the hearts of Corky and his high-school sweetheart, Peggy Snow (played with a glowing maturity by Ann-Margaret), is hesitantly evoked by Goldsmith's writing for strings in a way that simultaneously combines tension with sweetness, fear with hope. In its darkening, autumnal lyricism, Mr. Goldsmith's musical score for the film "Magic" summons a world of deeply felt emotion that includes despair and desire, rage and redemption, all of which steadily and inexorably coalesce to heighten the sense of Corky's bruised humanity to a fever pitch as it musically escorts him toward his climax of angry, jealous violence.

It is film scores like this very one that convince me that film music can be an art form that adds inexplicable depth, passion and entertainment value to the movies in which it is most studiously and creatively applied. The main title itself, surging and retreating like a lost wave, has a sense of longing in it that is almost Gerswhin-esque in its symphonic bluesiness, and yet a-swirl with classical orchestral string colorings and avant-garde effects. Just stunning, absolutely and positively stunning.

I miss Jerry Goldsmith very much.

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