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The Ides of March by Alexandre Desplat

The Ides of March

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The Ides of March (Soundtrack) by Alexandre Desplat
The Ides of March (Soundtrack) by Alexandre Desplat
The Ides of March (Poster and Memorabilia)










The Ides of March (Soundtrack) by Alexandre Desplat

The Ides of March
Composed by Alexandre Desplat
Varese Sarabande (2011)

Rating: 7/10

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“Aside from the central core of DESPLAT’S music, THE IDES OF MARCH is a quite reserved score in its emotions, choosing to accent the scenes rather than overwhelm them in any way.”

Not Too Brute
Review by Richard Buxton

The last few years have seen ALEXANDRE DESPLAT evolve from an up and coming feature composer to one of the most sought after in Hollywood, yet he is one that remains divisive depending on how his music is heard. DESPLAT is undoubtedly one of the most talented composers in the art of pure music-to-film correlation working today. Once his music is extracted from its original residency within the walls of a motion picture however, cracks tend to show. These cracks are not displays of inadequacy in compositional skill, rather the effects of the transformation a score undergoes when it is heard out of context. DESPLAT is certainly not known for writing bombastically memorable fanfares that the likes of JOHN WILLIAMS thrive on, and this is something that has to be taken into account when assessing his work.

DESPLAT retains his enviable ability to craft a musical score as if it and the film were one and the same with his score for the GEORGE CLOONEY film THE IDES OF MARCH. THE IDES OF MARCH dwells within the dark and deceitful world of modern-day politics, following the descent of the bright-eyed and idealistic campaign manager Stephen Meyers (RYAN GOSLING), into a world of guile, treachery and uninhibited ambition. The development that both the protagonist and his world undergo has allowed DESPLAT to craft a score that interweaves between the optimism and inevitable corruption of a young political mind.

Whilst the ideals of and perception of each character in the film undergoes significant transformation, DESPLAT’S is an instant indication of things to come as his score shifts between contemplation and suspenseful pensiveness, to militaristic and posturing marches. DESPLAT’S main theme for THE IDES OF MARCH comes in two similar, but ultimately designed for different purposes, forms. Heard in the opening track “The Ides of March” (1), the flickering three-to-a-fourth note motif sits above a brooding bass and provides just enough juxtaposing patriotism within its short lifespan to suggest the underlying undertones of deceit within CLOONEY’S depiction of the US political machine. The climactic percussive shuffles round out this subtle, but effective rendition of the main theme.

The other, and perhaps superior, variation of the main theme is heard frequently throughout the score but never more prominently than in “The Candidate” (5) and “The Campaign” (15). The latter piece provides a bare bones version of the theme, favouring the militaristic percussion over the more rounded and fuller sound heard in the former. The simplicity of the theme is accentuated in its playful representation here, but it is in “The Candidate” that the theme really shines. The piece begins with a string rendition of the theme that is followed by an accumulation of percussion, strings, brass, and guitar that builds with increasingly impressive swagger and pomp. It is in DESPLAT’S experimentation with the central motif that THE IDES OF MARCH excels, and in particular those moments that value sheer presence over subtlety. The motif appears in other variations such as the solemn and reflective “Doubt” (7), but it is the aforementioned tracks that it finds its most successful form.

Aside from the central core of DESPLAT’S music, THE IDES OF MARCH is a quite reserved score in its emotions, choosing to accent the scenes rather than overwhelm them in any way. This can lead to somewhat of a decrease in the score’s attraction out of context, but it is still potent enough to conjure memories of the various scenes found within the film experience. The cycling bass line heard in “Undercurrents” (2) and “Lobbying” (13) provides ample tension and works well in shadowing the themes of deception and self-interest that course through the film. The sporadic blasts of brass underline the tenuous lines between political survival and political death that the characters creep across throughout the film and serve to liven up the subtler musical moments.

The only real major downfall that this score experiences in terms of listening out of context comes in the track “The Betrayal” (12). Almost the entire track consists of near silent underscoring and, without the relieving appearance of the main motif; one might question its purpose within the soundtrack release.

THE IDES OF MARCH is a likely to be a score has little to no middle ground. The listener will either like what they hear, or not. Beyond the central motifs, DESPLAT offers little to get excited about, but also little that can be criticized considering how well it works within the film. The repetition heard throughout is likely to irritate those unable to form an attachment to the score’s highlights, but for those that can THE IDES OF MARCH provides an interesting and provocative listening experience.

Rating: 7/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 The Ides of March 2:04  ****
2 Undercurrents 3:51  ***
3 Behind the Flag 1:47  ****
4 Paranoia 1:27  **
5 The Candidate 4:09  *****
6 Molly's Solitude 3:53  ***
7 Doubt 2:05  ****
8 Molly 2:27  ***
9 Zara Vs. Duffy 2:21  ***
10 The Intern 2:02  ****
11 Stephen Meyers 1:15  ****
12 The Betrayal 2:15  **
13 Lobbying 4:45  ***
14 Fired 1:47  ***
15 The Campaign 2:40  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 39 minutes  


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