V of Vendetta (Dario Marianelli) – Soundtrack Review

Remember remember the 5th of November, or maybe October 24th because V for Vendetta has a shiny new vinyl re-release...

This month, Import are re-releasing the soundtrack for V for Vendetta, the film 2006 adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, on vinyl. The new soundtrack features new jacket artwork of the masked face of V, designed by “Ghoulish Gary” Pullin, who previously designed album covers for soundtracks to Wes Craven’s Scream and John Carpenter’s Christine. Like the thousands of “Guy Fawkes” masks donned in the film’s pivotal scene, a wearable mask comes included inside the package.

The score by Oscar winner, Dario Marianelli, features tracks from Cat Power and Antony and The Johnsons as well as a song from 1950’s Jazz artist, Julie London. Known for his work on period pieces such as Pride And Prejudice and Anna Karenina, composer Dario Marianelli won the Academy Award for the score to Atonement. Arguably Dario’s most culturally significant work is tied to the “Guy Fawkes” mask, an image for rebellion, most notably used by the online anarchist group, Anonymous.

Marianelli’s score for V for Vendetta is something really quite special. A fusion of epic orchestral pieces, bombastic synth and percussion and gorgeous vocals, it bears the influences of Tchaikovsky, military marches and even 60’s rat pack crooners. It’s an eclectic work, full of passion and is a joy to listen to. The original soundtrack has been collated into four separate tracks, each on one vinyl side.

Side A

Marianelli opens with military drums and sombre slowed strings as the familiar opening to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is cleverly hinted. There are some lovely rousing, epic orchestral pieces a play, the composer making excellent use of sinister percussiom beats, military drums, haunting choral chants and rising strings. The frantic techno gives it a real sci-fi edge before changing gears with a gorgeous, soulful acapello version of ‘Cry Me A River’ by Julie London.

The mournful strings that follow build tension until Marianelli hits the listener with thundering, brassy percussion beats and feathered strings that create a real sense of fear. He really knows how to deliver something both atmospheric and emotive; the haunting wind instruments, heavy bass strings and eerie flute create menace to the very end before ending on a bold, thundering percussion climax. It’s the first of four great movements; it might not reach the heights of Tchaikovsky, but the soundtrack really feels like a full on symphony at times.

Side B

My favourite of the four tracks, side B opens with Gregorian chants and rising strings that builds into bombastic synth drum beats. There is something rather grand in this piece, moments that would not be out of place in an epic score like that of Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Grandiose and gothic, the rise and fall of the strings have a real Hitchcock feel too, full of tension, the orchestra building behind it into a bold mid-track climax of percussion symbols and strings.

This really is packed full of intense emotion, tension and drama. Gothic choral tones, explosive orchestral beats, rising and rising, there are also moments reminiscent of sci-fi horror scores like James Horner’s Aliens or Alan Silvestri’s Predator. The final part to Side B is a haunting, beautiful piano solo with rising strings, wind instruments and sombre heavy chords that are intensely emotional, leaving a real lump in your throat.

Side C

Things start a little different on the third track, opening with clock chimes, haunting strings, eerie synth chords and beats; it all creates a very 80s rock synth vibe mixed with sweeping, epic string movements. Both sad and epic, the rising strings lead into something breath-taking and beautiful.
Cat Power’s vocals on ‘I Found A Reason’ are rich and ethereal, accompanied by a gentle piano solo. Marianelli then rounds things off with ominous military drums, grim string movements and brassy horns that builds tension, before finishing with a powerful mix of synth, heavy percussion, rising strings and gothic choral tones that resonates long after it has finished.

Side D

The fourth and final track builds on everything that has come before it. Eerie strings rise and fall and there are blasts of percussion with marching beats. It is packed full of tension, Marianelli really creating that sense of approaching war with his music; the weird distorted synth sounds and gothic choir, builds and builds into something brilliantly epic. The gear changes once more with a gentle piano solo and the crooner vocals of Anthony And The Johnson with ‘Bird ‘Gurhl’; it’s passionate, sad, uplifting and just gorgeous to listen to.

The soundtrack finishes off with bombastic military horns and drums, while the use of a harp, feathered strings and rumbling drum beats continue to create tension and fear. Marianelli throws everything into the mix and it works; horns, feathered strings, percussion and a rousing gothic choir that makes for an absolutely thrilling, epic climax. And then he concludes with the rousing cannon and triumphant beats of Tchiakovsky’s 1812. It’s an absolute joy to listen to.

Marianelli perfectly captures the fanfare, the drama, the fear and tension of V for Vendetta in his music; this re-release on vinyl is a fantastic, emotional listening experience and is absolutely worth your time and your money.

The vinyl release of the V for Vendetta soundtrack is available to buy now from Varese Sarabande.

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