Jarhead Soundtrack

Music Composed by Thomas Newman

Released by Decca Records

Reviewed by Jon Minners

You sit and watch the trailer for Jarhead and it looks like an ordinary war movie until you hear the start of Kanye Westís Jesus Walks pumping behind the action on the screen and suddenly, you take notice.  Now you want to see this film.  The trailer and song weave together to form what appears to be a must-see movie. 

That is the magic of music in movies, but sadly, Jarhead ended up not doing well at the box office.  Strangely, the soundtrack to the film was released one month after the filmís debut; nowhere near coinciding with the movie or even the DVD release.  Even worse, the soundtrack doesnít include Jesus Walks, which is strange considering it was that song that seemed pseudonymous with the movie. 

But, getting past all that, Jarhead does have a really good soundtrack to follow the film based on the life of Marine Anthony Swofford and his experiences in the first Gulf War.  The third generation enlistee, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is seen from boot camp to war in the open space of Iraq where there is no cover from heat or opposing soldiers; where the only way to get by in a country they donít understand, against an enemy they canít see; in a war they canít comprehend, is to become a family sustained by dark humor in the face of high tension drama. 

The soundtrack, composed by Thomas Newman, who composed Desperately Seeking Susan, Scent of a Woman, Little Women, Shawshank Redemption and Cinderella Man, fits the film perfectly.  Newman has a knack for bringing out what the film is about in the music that accompanies it.  Military riffs, Arabian music, violins playing, drums beating; this is not a normal soundtrack; it is an adrenaline rush; a somber piece of reflection; a tense look; a very modern sounding, historical and auditorical (so good, I had to make up a word to describe it) look at a war that paved the way for todayís conflict.   There is a lot of emotion in this score.  Listen and you will feel it. 

Add songs like Bobby McFerrinís Donít Worry, Be Happy; Naughty By Natureís OPP; T-Rexís Bang a Gong (Get it On); Tom Waitís Soldierís Things and the appropriately included Fight the Power by Public Enemy and you have a well rounded soundtrack cleverly depicting the emotions of war, not only felt then, but also today.  This could have easily been the soundtrack to todayís war. 

If you want Jesus Walks, buy Kanye Westís College Dropout and then get his follow-up Late Registration.  Both are worth it, but if you want a well-crafted modern war soundtrack, Jardhead is the perfect addition to your collection. 

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