Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood

Composed By: Peter Melnick

Songs By: Various Artists

Distributed by: MovieScore Media

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


           The documentary, Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood, discusses the exodus of German and Austrian filmmakers during Hitler’s rise to power.  Narrated by Sigourney Weaver, the film pays tribute to great directors like Fritz Lang and Robert Siodmak and composers like Franz Waxman and Erich Wolfgang Korngold to name just a few.  Beginning in 1920s Germany, the movie takes viewers on a visual and musical journey through the 30s and 40s and culminates in post-war America.

The musical score of Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood was created by American composer Peter Melnick.  Son of film producer Daniel Melnick and grandson of composer Richard Rodgers, Peter Melnick seemed poised for a career in music and/or film.  After attending Harvard, the Berklee College of Music and the Guildhall school of Music and Drama, and studying jazz with Jaki Byard, Melnick did indeed become a composer for various genre and mediums, including film, television and musical theater.  Some of his works include, LA Story, Farce of the Penguins, Indictment: The McMartin Trial, Only You, Two Mothers for Zachary and Arctic Blue.

Creating the music for this film was quite an experience for Melnick: “While scoring the film, I got to rub shoulders with the best composers of Hollywood.  Musically speaking, these were great years, harmonically sophisticated and melodically rich. I wanted to approach the score, not as a tourist in that musical era, but as though I were of that period, myself. The story commences in 1920s Germany and ends up in post-war America, and the music make the same journey, from the dark but lively Berlin cabaret sound to the popular music of the ‘30s and ’40s.”  The score of the film features a full orchestra, including strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion and piano.  It begins with 1920s style movie music and spans the genre, featuring jazz and eventually music associated with that found in Wild West action films.  The Cinema's Exiles Soundtrack also features music from the era – vintage recordings, including previously unreleased works by Franz Waxman.

Originally scheduled for release in 2009, the Cinema’s Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood Soundtrack features music that fans of the Golden Age of film are going to love.  Vintage recordings combine with original music inspired by the era to create a Golden Age fan’s dream soundtrack and an homage to all those filmmakers and composers forced to leave their homes to escape Hitler’s rule.  Quite the interesting listen!


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