The Number 23

Composed By: Harry Gregson-Williams

Produced by: New Line Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            The Number 23 is a psychological thriller directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Jim Carrey in a rare dramatic role.  Carrey portrays Walter Sparrow, an Animal Control Officer who becomes obsessed with a novel given to him by his wife (Virginia Madsen) on his birthday – “The Number 23”.  As Carrey continues to read the mystery novel, he becomes more obsessed with it, subconsciously substituting himself as the role of the detective in the novel and subsequently becoming obsessed with the numerology behind the number 23.  His obsession leads to severe paranoia as Carrey begins to actually believe that the book was actually penned about him.

            As a psychologically intense thriller, The Number 23’s soundtrack would have to be equally intense.  Thus, the creators of the film chose Harry Gregson-Williams to compose the music for their film.  England-born Gregson-Williams is one of Hollywood’s most sought after composers, having amassed an extensive musical background that began at the age of seven, when he earned a scholarship from the music school of St. John’s College in Cambridge.  Gregson-Williams has been tapped to create soundtracks for almost every different genre of film.  Some of his composition credits include musical scores for Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Antz, Kingdom of Heaven, Domino, Shrek, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

            Judging from his past works, Gregson-Williams has a flare for the dramatic.  This made him an excellent choice to compose the soundtrack for The Number 23.  The first track, Opening Titles, gives you a relative idea as to the dark nature of the film, creeping you out just enough to make you wonder what the film is all about.  Fingerling’s Childhood is a light and airy track which sets the listener up for the main character’s descent into madness.  As the soundtrack continues, the music gets darker with harsher tones and differing tempos.  By the time we reach the fifth track, 11:12 p.m., the listener is thoroughly beside himself, listening to dark tones accompanied by the shrieking of violin bows scratching strings none to delicately. 

            Harry Gregson-Williams’ musical score of The Number 23 perfectly depicts the film’s psychological tone.  The more paranoid Carrey’s character becomes, the darker and more erratic the composition.  It is important that a movie’s musical score perfectly compliments the mood and activity of the movie.  The soundtrack of The Number 23 does just that.  Kudos to Gregson-Williams for such an unnerving musical score.

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