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Coriolanus by Ilan Eshkeri (Review)

posted Apr 30, 2012, 9:54 PM by Kaya Savas

The adaptation of Shakespeare to film can be a tragedy unto itself. Kenneth Branagh proved it to be possible, but you had to take your time and treat the source material with respect. Julie Taymor's The Tempest was another rather successful attempt as her visual style added something. Elliot Goldenthal also worked out a masterful way of how score should appear in a Shakespeare adaptation. In reality music has no place in Shakespeare. The dialogue is what is taking center stage and the music cannot trip up over the words, but the music needs to find a way to add something. Ilan Eshkeri is a talented composer, but for Coriolanus I couldn't help but find his score to be a one-note stretch.

The score doesn't have many sides to it. It's a cello constantly being played with pots and pans banging in the background. If I'm speaking honestly to what the music speaks to me then that is it. The score didn't absorb me into a world, nor did it tell a story and I felt no emotion or atmosphere. In the overall listen it was more of an experimentation in sound design or a really great motif that got stretched way too long. That opening track is great; awesome motif. I get the chaos and bluntness of it. But after 40-minutes of it I found it irritating. He does break it up with some less percussive tracks, but they don't add much. Is this score a product of music taking the backseat to Shakespeare's dialogue? Well, a second disc is included that has the score with excerpts of dialogue and score. However it's not always score under dialogue so I don't see the point of including it. You can be the judge if it works or not.

For me the score didn't speak with me. Then again you may love it so check it out. It's definitely a style and structure that doesn't connect with me, but it doesn't mean it failed the purpose of what this adaptation needed. I could potentially see this as good reciting music for stage actors. It does build similarly the way dialogue does, but it's just too much of pots and pans for me.
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