Touched With Fire

Musical Score By: Paul Dalio

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the dramatic film, Touched With Fire, Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby are Carla and Marco, two poets who suffer from bipolar disorder.  Meeting in a treatment facility, the two have instant chemistry.  Their relationship becomes extremely intense and they feed off of one another’s mania, reaching the fantastic highs and torturous lows experienced by all bipolar disorder sufferers, multiplied by a thousand.  In the end, the two must choose between a life of sanity or one filled with love.

                The musical score of Touched With Fire was created by Paul Dalio, the writer and director of this film.  His grandfather was a jazz musician and Paul Dalio was fascinated with the art of making music, learning to play piano and eventually create melodies through experimentation.  Realizing he was creating music from emotion, he realized he could do the same for this film and began composing the movie’s score. 

                According to Dalio, “I wanted to create the score around the film’s two stylistic elements that to me represented the beauty of bipolar.  The first being ‘Starry Night,’ humanity’s most beloved image of the sky as seen through a sanitarium window with Van Gogh’s manic eyes, and two, the sun and moon coming together and illuminating each other and in the sky into the image of unsustainable beauty that burns too bright and can only last so long. So I used celestial sounding classical instruments, glockenspiel for Marco, the moon and celesta for Carla, the sun, starting them apart with minor chord melancholy melodies for each and then as they come together, intertwining their instruments and melodies into major chords, adding synths as their mania increases with their love. I made the music in logic using a Midi keyboard with virtual instruments, Komplete, Vienna and East/West. Since I did most of the editing myself over the course of a year before bringing on another editor, I had time to make the music and edit simultaneously. I would bring a Quicktime file of the film into Logic and make the music to match edit and then place the music into Final Cut and re-edit the cut to match the music, which became very organic.”

The music begins with crackling noises sounding very much like a fire.  High notes on a piano are used for Carla's Theme Marco's Theme also focuses on high notes, this time on a different instrument.  The music is often off-pitch, speaking to the manic moments suffered by both characters, together and apart.  Echoes in the Abyss features barely understandable voices in the background.  Are these speaking to memories or are they part of the characters’ psychosis…voices in their heads, perhaps?  The last track features Starry Nights, a poem set to music that speaks about the life of someone suffering mental illness. 

Paul Dailo created the perfect score for Touched With Fire, using his own emotions regarding the creation of the film, the character’s emotions, etc. to tell the story.  His attention to details like reverb, distortion, notes in high pitch and more add depth to the story by musically describing what it is like to be in the head of someone with mental illness.  The Touched With Fire Soundtrack is quite an interesting listen and a terrific accompaniment to the visuals and drama of the movie.


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