Carter Burwell has written a dark and broody score for Simon West's (Con Air) thriller The General's Daughter, which stars John Travolta, James Woods and others. Opening with the dark and sad main theme, in "Exercise in Darkness" Burwell sets the tone of the score immediately. To quote the director in the liner notes: "I got together with Carter and explained that I wanted the main theme for my film to act as a counter-point to the visuals. For example, one scene takes place with a thousand army troops on night maneuvers; there are explosions, tanks, guns, helicopters - all manner of chaos. At the center of this scene is a brutal and violent attack on a female soldier. To get away from glamorizing or glorifying the violence in this scene, I asked Carter to compose a melody that was beautiful but sad." This beautiful theme dominates the entire score. It is almost always there somewhere, in the background or the foreground, giving the music a very dark, dramatic and somewhat depressing sound.
I wouldn't say that this is a score one finds easy to enjoy - it's far too downhearted and gloomy. Instead, this is a perfect score to listen to while doing something else, such as reading or studying. The music pretty much goes on in the same style throughout the score. Mostly slow strings and dark brass, and sometimes short performances on guitar. To be honest it can get rather repetitive - although sometimes very beautiful - and hard to focus on for a longer time. There are however a couple of exceptions. Such as the first cue, "Exercise in Darkness" and the last, "The General's End", which both build to dramatic climaxes - two of the best cues on the soundtrack. And "The Conspiracy", which includes some excellent dramatic music, with snare drums and other percussive instruments.
One should also point out that the score portion on the soundtrack is rather short. Just around 26 minutes. The rest of the CD concists of "Negro Spirituals", which has been "remixed with modern synthesizer beds", to quote Simon West again. Also included are the infamous "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" and a short music box version of "All Through the Night", and old Welsh song.
Read other recent reviews by Andreas Lindahl: The Rocketeer
, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
, The Phantom of the Opera