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Credit Where Credit Is Due

October 21, 1990

I don't understand a phenomenon in film soundtracks. At least two 1990 movies use classical music in just about all the major scenes, but the audience is led to believe that the man whose name is under the "music by" credit wrote it all.

In "Die Hard II," I was hard pressed to hear any "music by" Michael Kamen (who wrote such an eloquent score for "The Bay Boy"). Though the credits could lead one to think Kamen wrote it, "Finlandia" by Jean Sibelius predominates (and its stark, icy mood works quite well for the wintry film).

Angelo Badalamenti's "Twin Peaks"-like score for the movie "Wild at Heart" is slightly more prominent, but Richard Strauss' soaring "Im Abendrot" (from his "Four Last Songs") underscores both the opening titles (even as Badalamenti's name appears on the screen!) and just about all the crucial scenes, or so it seems.

In both cases, acknowledgement of the actual music is buried in the list of "songs" at the very end of the closing credits, after most of the audience has left. (At least it's not as bad as plagiarizing a classical piece by reorchestrating it, as has been done.)

I wonder if Hollywood will ever give credit where it is due: in the opening credits. The fact that it's so easy to rob musical graves certainly doesn't justify the practice.

WILLIAM HAMILTON, San Francisco

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