A Dangerous Method

Composed by: Howard Shore

Distributed by: Sony Classical

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            A Dangerous Method is a Canadian historical film based on the 1993 non-fiction book, A Most Dangerous Method: The story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, by John Kerr.  Set during World War I, the movie focuses on the turbulent relationship between analytical psychology founder Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and one of the first female psychoanalysts, Sabrina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), who was once Jung‘s patient and later became Freud‘s patient.

            The musical score of A Dangerous Method was created by Academy Award Winning composer Howard Shore. While serving as musical director for Saturday Night Live from 1975 to 1980, Shore began composing musical scores for film, amassing a diverse résumé. Howard Shore’s credits include the musical scores for Big, Crash, Gangs of New York, Ed Wood, Seven, A History of Violence, Doubt, Hugo and more, but he is perhaps most recognized for his award-winning musical scores for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

            The music composed for A Dangerous Method is quite dark and has a classical air, featuring a full orchestra.  The soundtrack begins on a dark tone with a track called Burghölzli, which features pianos and strings performing in low registries, but suddenly rising in crescendo, the music becomes sweeping, quite possibly foreshadowing Jung’s relationship with Spielrein which seems to spiral out of control as the film progresses.  One of the most striking pieces on the album can be found in the track Carriage.  There is a sense of urgency and wonder in this track that captures the listener’s attention, but becomes rather tame at the end.

            As the soundtrack progresses and Jung’s relationship with his patient and his mentor become more complicated, the music takes on a sadder tone.  There is a passion and beauty in the latter tracks that is mesmerizing and exhibits some of Howard Shore’s ability to compose incredibly moving music.

            Without knowing what the movie is about, I found the musical score of A Dangerous Method somewhat dark and intense.  Despite that fact, there was an intrinsic beauty to the music that made me want to listen to the album again.  Now that I know what the movie is all about, I can see that Howard Shore created the perfect score to go along with the emotional turmoil of the characters in A Dangerous Method.  Thus, the score Howard Shore created for A Dangerous Method is perfect as a musical accompaniment to the film and as a stand alone album - the true test of a well-composed film score.


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