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Comments about the soundtrack for Murder in the First (Christopher Young)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: JJ Hinrichs   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Sunday, March 23, 2008, at 8:08 p.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by JJ Hinrichs was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in March, 2008)

Murder in the First: (Christopher Young) Murder in the First is the true story of Henry Young and his mistreatment at the hands of the California prison system for stealing $5 to help feed his starving sister. Henry winds up staying in solitary confinement for several years, kills a guard because he couldn't take any more punishment, and winds up on trial for the murder of the guard. The movie is essentially about his fight to reform the system. Ultimately, the movie left me cold, and not just because I have a cold heart.

Anyone that watches this movie will notice first and foremost the music, and the vital role it takes on as the film progresses. It si almost like another character. The music is unashamedly romantic and heartfelt. This is music that will work on your tearducts very time you put it on. What's surprising about this score is that the music comes from the pen of Christopher Young, an acknowledged master of the horror genre. Take everything you know of Young and throw it out the door. This is poignant and mature music, and a world apart from his Hellraiser scores. The first track, Murder in the First, sets everything up for the film, and the album. The lower strings here play an elegy to the character of Henry Young and the sad, lonely story he will have to fight. A secondary theme appears at about 2:30 into the track. It is hopeful, resonant music. Both of these are fully developed in the body of the score to a great satisfying effect.

There are two newsreel tracks that interrupt the flow of the music. These appear in tracks 5 and 10. Some people feel these are a nuisance. I don't however. I think that, yes, they help disturb the sense of isolation and compassion, but at the same time I welcome the change. Listening too long to this sad music, one is bound to develop clinical depression. That's just a joke, of course, but seriously, this film is one of those rare cases where the composer actually got the chance to develop his themes to their full potential. The vocals that appear in tracks 4 and 8 add to the mood of the score, as are the newsreel tracks. Cello solos appear evry so often, too. The score seems to flow effortlessly from one track to another. There are no bad tracks, no sudden outbursts of brass or percussion. This is a fine to relax too if you're in the right mood.

All in all, you'd do very well for yourself to find this score. There is some very fine string work on display here. This score is about the very best that Christopher Young has written. Heck, it's just about the best that ANYONE's written, where I'm concerned. it's a pity that more people don't have the CD. I said earlier that Young was an acknowledged of the horror genre. Perhaps I was wrong. I'm now convinced he's a master of any genre. Unfortunately, the CD was a French-only release and is very hard to find. It sells for $20 - $30 at auctions, but it pops up fairly regularly so keep an eye out for it. *****

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rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. Scoreboard created 7/24/98 and last updated 4/25/15.