The Skin I Live In

Musical Score By: Alberto Iglesias

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Loosely based on the novel Tarantula by Theirry Jonquet, The Skin I Live In is a dramatic thriller starring Antonio Banderas as plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard.  Ever since his wife burned to death in a car crash, Dr. Ledgard has been obsessed with cultivating a skin that can make an individual impervious to virtually any assault.  Unfortunately, using lab mice is not effective enough to prove the skin’s worth.  Thus, thanks to the aide of his housekeeper Marilia (Marisa Paredes), Dr. Legard is experimenting on a human guinea pig…one who has a very special relationship with the good doctor.

            The musical score of The Skin I Live In was created by acclaimed Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias.  Classically trained in piano, guitar, composition and counterpoint, and also well-versed in electronic music studies, Alberto Iglesias has composed music for the concert hall, ballet and film and has been nominated for Academy Awards for the musical scores of The Constant Gardener and The Kite Runner.

            The musical score for The Skin I Live In contains quite a diverse collection of music, ranging from classical to jazz to contemporary to techno dance.  According to director Pedro Almodóvar, Iglesias was “the only artist I know without an ego, tireless, versatile, patient, capable of looking in one direction and then looking in the opposite direction, always subject to the dictates of the story.”  Thus, Alberto Iglesias couldn’t exactly stick to one style.  In order to tell the story of the film with his music, he had to change the musical style as the mood of the film changed.

            There is one central theme, however - the classical violin, played with a rising intensity and tempo, which seems to represent Dr. Legdard.  The fierce intensity and obsessive single-minded sense of purpose and urgency are perfectly represented in this theme.  The musical score itself begins with classical piano and strings featuring the violin theme and moving into a haunting melody until we reach El Asalto del Hombre Tigre.  In this track, you definitely get a sense that something sinister is going on.  There is a definite action feel to this track with its horns and electronic sound. 

            Chris Garneau’s haunting version of Elliot Smith’s Between the Bars moves the soundtrack in yet another direction.  This is followed by the techno dance sound of Shades of Marble.  Then we head in yet another direction with the love song Por El Amor de Amar, performed by Concha Buika.  Afterwards, we return to the classical theme, but things become a tad darker than earlier, with some ominous undertones infused in the classical music.  By the time we reach the thirteenth track, Libertad Vigilada, the score has become decidedly dark.

            And then the tide turns again with the jazz track, Pequeña Flor, which features mournful some soulful brass accompanied by tinkling pianos and lightly brushed percussion.  We follow with a sultry love song by Concha Buika entitled Se Me Hizo Facil.  The musical score becomes darker still as the events of the film come to a climax ultimately leading to death and destruction.

            The musical score created for The Skin I Live In by Alberto Iglesias features a lot of twists and turns and unexpected musical styles, but I found that this made the album that much more enjoyable.  Iglesias found a perfect way to relate the events of the film to the listener through his music.  If the Oscar people thought that Iglesias’ score for The Kite Runner was award material, they should really check out the musical score for The Skin I Live In.


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