Movie Soundtrack

Death Defying Acts

Composed by: Cezary Skubiszewski

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            In the late 1920s, some time after his mother’s death, the great magician/escape artist Harry Houdini (Guy Pearce) has become obsessed with psychics and mediums.  Discovering that he has posted a $10,000 reward to any person who can make contact with his long-dead mother and reveal her final words uttered at her death bed, Mary McGarvie (Catherine Zeta-Jones) jumps at the opportunity.  A con-artist by trade, the uneducated and indigent McGarvie enlists the aide of her 11-year-old daughter Benji (Saoirse Ronan) in conducting research about the magician and his mother, the better to pull off her wild scheme to con Houdini into parting with his money.  Thus forms the plot of the supernatural romantic thriller, Death Defying Acts.

            Cezary Skubiszewski, Polish émigré and Australia’s leading composer, was tapped to create a musical score for Death Defying Acts.  Skubiszewski has been composing musical scores for television and film for over a decade, receiving numerous accolades for his works.  He has won awards for his musical compositions for the films Bootmen, Two Hands, The Book of Revelation and La Spagnola and been nominated for countless other awards.  The soundtrack of Death Defying Acts is performed by the Victorian Philharmonic Orchestra with vocal segments performed by the Ashton-Smith Singers of Australia.

            The musical score of Death Defying Acts definitely contains Scottish and Hungarian undertones, a nod toward the origins of both main characters in the film.  Skubiszewski uses instruments such as the Scottish harp, lute, piano accordion, oud, dholak and zurna to create an exotic sound, defining the con artist and her alter ego.  The music composed by Skubiszewski for Death Defying Acts fits the movie perfectly, the music relating to the listener the events taking place in the film, most notably so in the track Mu Immortal Soul.  The music in this particular track begins with a fanfare of horns, becoming ominous in tone with vocals that lend support to the ominous nature of the music, growing in intensity until it culminates in yet another fanfare of horns, leading the listener to believe that Houdini has just performed some death defying escape act.

            The entire album is incredibly enjoyable.  Throughout the entire listening process, I found myself wanting to play conductor along with the music.  The track Foxtrot Foxtrot was so much fun that I found myself playing imaginary drums with my pens as I listened.  This is a soundtrack that gets the listener fully involved in the flow of the music.  Cezary Skubiszewski has done an excellent job in his composition of the musical score of Death Defying Acts.  The soundtrack was created to compliment the events taking place in the film, but would be perfect as a stand alone album.  The Death Defying Acts Soundtrack is definitely an album worth checking out.


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