Though he is most famous for his exceptional scores to both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, there is far more to Howard Shore than that. Having composed the score to every David Cronenberg film bar one since 1979 he has certainly demonstrated his varied abilities as an extremely talented film composer.
Cronenberg’s latest nightmare is once again one of a subtle, but yet strangely unnerving atmosphere of the darkness just beneath the surface, and this time in one of the most fickle places on the planet: Hollywood. This being 21st Century Cronenberg, everything is in the subtext, yet all the more deeply unnerving for it and so an equally unnerving score is required.
Maps to the Stars is not a soundtrack that is particularly long in length, with the individual tracks being pretty short, and it probably only works as an effective listen in isolation when having seen the actual film.
As per the scenes in the film, the tracks take a diverse form, from dark compositions reminiscent of Angelo Badalamenti’s score to Mulholland Drive to scores that have quite a techno infused beat to them.
Tracks like ‘Greyhound’, ‘Set Me Free’, ‘Walk of Fame’, ‘Secrets Kill’ and ‘Liberty’ have a hypnotic element to them of a subtle, but repetitive drum beat that perfectly depicts the intoxicating world of the film’s protagonists.
Shore proves his versatility as a composer with techno inspired tracks such as ‘Wildfire’ and ‘Burn Out’, but it is the darker compositions such as ‘Stolen Waters’, ‘A Little Crazy’, ‘Fire and Water’, ‘Asylum Corrider’, ‘Brother and Sister’, ‘Love is Stronger than Death’, ‘I’m Sorry’, ‘I Write Your Name’ and ‘Blanket of Stars’ that depict the unique nightmare of Maps to the Stars. These arrangements that often contain subtle piano or violin riffs capture perfectly the brooding darkness within the narrative that is always there, yet never visible and all the more unnerving for that fact.
As with all Cronenberg films, Howard Shore’s score plays a vital part in the narrative, and Maps to the Stars is no exception with an eclectic range of compositions that perfectly compliment the film’s unnerving atmosphere.
As a soundtrack album Maps to the Stars is very short in length and Shore’s rich soundscapes are far more effective when having seen Cronenberg’s nightmarish masterpiece. However even without having seen one of the very best films of 2014, the short compositions speak a thousands words that help any listener enter into David Cronernberg’s unique world of lonely isolation and heartbroken shattered dreams. Maps to the Stars may not be his most instantly accessible composition, but to those willing to free their mind and enter a uniquely Cronenbergian Nightmare, it is a deeply affecting and hypnotic score.