Listening to First Man OST

firstmostThe soundtrack by Justin Hurwitz is as flawed as the film for which it was written (and I really should get around to posting my review of the film soon) and yet, also like the film, in spite of any misgivings, it does, ultimately, work. Just not the way one might expect. Its quite a stroke of genius in its use of harp and theremin, the latter an instrument so synonymous with spacey 1950s films and their aural wake through genre cinema for decades that it almost slipped into parody. Its a dangerous thing to use here in a drama about the first moon landing, the man who made the first step there and the grief and tragedy that (allegedly) propelled him there. But it works. Just. As a whole the score is a mixed bag of electronic soundscapes and those lovely harp/theremin interludes and a few more bombastic moments, but generally it is quite melodic and quite sophisticated and fresh-sounding. Its certainly a relief from the usual Zimmer drone we tend to get these days, and like the composers earlier La La Land score it really harks back to old-school scoring.

The problem with the score is, like the film itself, one of a blurred focus. Partly this is because the while the film pretends to be a dramatic study of grief and loss and a fractured life, it is also a fairly routine drama about how we got to the moon, of Apollo and its astronauts, and it couldn’t really do both satisfactorily. The score mirrors the films highs and lows- its sensitive moments are its best, although I particularly enjoyed the tense heroics of The Launch and the driving theme that is placed throughout the film and propels the End Title– unfortunately the noisy electronic soundscapes overly distract from the whole. Also, while most (possibly all) of the score is here, it is by its spotting in the film very ‘bitty’, most of the tracks too short to make for comfortable listening over 70 mins (the track total is 37 tracks, some tracks as short as 28 and 48 seconds). A shorter album of highlights would make for a far more enjoyable and focused listen- and yes, funnily enough, something similar could have been said of the film itself.

 

 

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