GREAT MOMENTS OF FILM SCORING #2 Cutthroat Island – John Debney

Another Debney score, and this time we’re in for a real treat: “Cutthroat Island” could very well be his Opus Magnum.

Cutthroat-Island-cover-HQ

According to various critics, the film was a complete mess, a result of an unfinished script that has been constantly re-written, even during the time of shooting, and a troubled post-production. It is not surprising that Debney wasn’t the first composer attached to this project but after David Arnold had to leave this one due to scheduling conflicts, aspiring composer John Debney took over the baton and delivered a wonderful swashbuckling adventure score, very much in the vein of what Erich Wolfgang Korngold would have written, led by a joyous main theme.
This time, Debney excels at the action material; orchestration and the focus on memorable melodies rather than bland string ostinatos keep the music interesting all the time. Fortunately, Debney even used a choir in addition to a big orchestral sound which gives the score a truly epic feeling (seriously, I LOVE choirs in film scores, just listen to the moment in the track posted here where the choir kicks in, now that’s awesome!). Even more than 20 years after its release, the score is still well-regarded as one of the best ones written in the 90’s (I really like these years when it comes to film scoring…) – it has recognizable themes, a wonderful orchestration, on a technical level it is pretty solid and, last but not least, it’s just so much fun.


A couple of weeks ago, LLL released a new 2CD set with improved sound quality compared to the already existing Prometheus version and offering a better listening experience – an instant buy for any serious film music collector (unless you already own the Prometheus version…probably…okay, maybe you should order the re-issue as well!).
This might be the best score ever written for a pirate movie and remains a crowning achievement in John Debney’s entire career.

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