Lend an ear to SPINEMA: a column exploring all movie music, music related to movies, and movies related to music. Be they film scores on vinyl, documentaries on legendary musicians, or albums of original songs by horror directors, all shall be reviewed here. Batten down your headphones, because shit’s about to sound cinematic.
After a long, hard climb, Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain finally hit theaters on this day in 2006. The film had a troubled history, eventually being crafted at half its originally intended budget. Then it made back only half of that in theaters — not just in the US, but globally.
But none of that matters. What matters is that The Fountain is one of the most incredible and beautiful cinematic experiences of all time. And time has been kind: in the years since its release, the film has come to be lately appreciated as new viewers experience its unique wonder. I adore this film, and it’s #2 on my all-time favorites.
But the score? The score is #1.
A huge part of the film’s atmosphere, and indeed much of Aronofsky’s success, is the gorgeous music of longtime aural partner Clint Mansell. His score for The Fountain is performed by oft-collaborators The Kronos Quartet, infused with the potent rockscape heaviness of Scottish band Mogwai.
Mondo has brought Mansell’s score to Limited Edition vinyl for the first time, where it joins his other scores for Black Swan and Noah, also directed by Aronofsky.
This is a very special collection of music for me — it’s quite probably the single album I’ve listened to most in the last decade, not only among film scores but across all artists and genres. I wrote about The Fountain last year, and specifically about the importance of the score, and how becoming familiar with the music before ever seeing the film lent a deeper level of appreciation of some of the film’s themes.
Excerpt from my review, published 17 Dec, 2015 —
The Fountain interested me from the start with the allure of its lush visual aesthetic. I knew Aronofsky to be an interesting filmmaker and already counted myself a fan of his musical collaborator, Clint Mansell. I missed the film theatrically, though, and events conspired to delay me further. I purchased the HD-DVD, but my copy was defective. The flipper disc had a DVD side, but I refused to watch what was obviously a very visual film in anything less than the best presentation possible. The point to all this is that I ended up experiencing the film in an unusually reversed fashion.
As I said, I was already a big fan of the music of Aronofsky’s musical collaborator, Clint Mansell. Before I ever watched the film, his score, which is truly magnificent and worthy of celebration, became one of my favorite albums: rich with melancholy strings and earthy rhythms, moments of quietude and emotive swells, and recurring themes that echo and build in passionate arrangements. I listened to it constantly. I put it on when I went to bed and let it shape my sleep.
When I finally got around to watching the film, it was a resultantly unique experience. Even though I was watching everything through new eyes, there was an underlying familiarity and deep affection to everything that transpired on the screen. Not only was I acutely aware of how well the music contributed to the storytelling, but I inadvertently became an extension of the film’s themes of renewal and rebirth, because the music that I already loved was also affected — each note now fulfilled its ultimate purpose and gained the fullness of completion, married to screen and script. I share this with the hope that if you already love this film as I do, you can experience some of this singular pleasure through my telling. And if you’ve never seen it, maybe steep yourself in the music first. I truly believe that I stumbled onto a very rare and uplifting experience by doing so.
Mondo’s vinyl release is a very beautiful presentation, featuring sleeve artwork by Nicole Gustafsson and a gold LP with black and white spatter, recalling the film’s palette and cosmic effects.
Because the sleeve’s cover features full artwork with no text or overlays, the package also includes a spine card with the usual cover details. I’d advise using an outer LP sleeve just to hold it all together nicely, even if you’re not usually in the habit of doing so.
A large booklet of liner notes is also included, and features an introduction by Clint Mansell, followed by an interview of the composer by film music critic Brian Satterwhite. The internal pages are glossy and textured with a design that’s mostly invisible but catches the light. This attention to beauty does make this feel like a prestige item.
The Fountain has been a long-awaited “Holy Grail” vinyl release for many cinephiles and music lovers, and I’m so happy to own this musical masterpiece in a beautiful prestige format.
Where to get it?
While this Limited Edition item is no longer for sale on Mondo’s website, it can also be found in record stores or on the secondary market.
Originally published at old.cinapse.co on November 22, 2016.