The Number 23 (2007)
Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams
New Line Records
Titles (374 kb)
Childhood (420 kb)
“So many contemporary, psycho-thrillers these days
seem to beg for these synthesized, sonic-tugowars, so, most
regrettably, their respective soundtracks end up in a great pool of
audio soup that just isn't all that tasty. ”
The Sound a Number Makes
Review by Christopher Coleman
I wonder what sound a number would make. Would
a "1" be a single, high pitched note going on for eternity? Would a
"2" be consonant or dissonant? What about a "3?" Both the
potential for beautiful harmonies and ear splitting instability would
exist for a number like 3, I suppose. What about the number 23?
It could be a variety of tonal arrangements or a cavalcade of discord.
And if a number could have a sound, perhaps it could have its own music.
And if a number could have it's own music, who would be best to compose
"23" has been well documented throughout history as
a seemingly mysterious number of the universe - discovered or interpreted
to mean or represent countless things: from the quantity of human
chromosomes to the final Apocalypse. The number has become an
obsession for numerologists throughout history and now, most recently for
our old friend, Jim Carrey, in Joel Schumacher's THE NUMBER 23.
Carrey jumps into the dual role of Walter
Sparrow and Fingerling in the film THE NUMBER 23. The film is a
psychological journey of Walter Sparrow who becomes obsessed with a book
about Fingerling who is, himself, obsessed with the number 23. In the
process of reading the book, Walter absorbs Fingerling's obsession with
the number and comes to believe that the book's narrative and his own life
To underscore this conceptually ambitious project,
came composer Harry Gregson-Williams. Known for electronic, musical
atmospheres, at least as well as his melodic themes, Harry Gregson-Williams does
seem a like a good enough choice for a film of this sort. Following
on the heals of Tony Scott's DE JA VU, a score that was already a feast of
electronic mayhem, Gregson-Williams dives several meters deeper into the
the darker realms of digital soundscapes and score for THE NUMBER 23.
Shumacher's latest film truly allows Gregson-Williams'
electronica-persona to assert itself again. The score has more in common
with THE RUNDOWN, SPY GAMES, or MAN ON FIRE, than it does with the more
lyrical LION, WITCH, and the WARDROBE or VERONICA GUERIN. The
electronic rumblings, chops, whirls, clicks, crashes, the reversed cymbals
and pads of the "Opening Titles" (1) drub the listener for the better part
of 3 minutes, until it finally gives way to an apprehensible bit of melody
at its conclusion. The jittery main theme introduced in track 1 takes
mental break until "Ned" (4) and then resurfaces again in track 7, "Laura
Tollins." It is this theme that gives THE NUMBER 23 any sort of musical
through-line at all. On this short 44 minute soundtrack, there are
but a few moments that lift out of the electrified, psycho-muck and mire.
"Fingerlings Childhood" (2) is soft and dreamy theme lead by flute and
backed by gently swaying strings. Of course such a beautiful environment
is not the mainstay of this film or score. As we hit the 2/3 mark (gasp
that's a 23 with a "/" through it!), the piece is invaded by those ominous
electronics and tremolo strings...and all that was pleasurable quickly
vanishes. The remainder of the soundtrack ebbs and flows in a variety of
synthetic tides building up to the eerie, "Room 23" (8). As the film
and score reach their conclusion, the jungle of digital dissonance is
peeled away one last time as "Atonement" (9) brings a subtle and guardedly
light end to the numerical nightmare.
Musically, THE NUMBER 23 is a let down - especially
in terms of the listening experience outside of the film. Perhaps it's
not as big a let down as the film itself though. As much as Jim Carrey
is trying to spread his wings outside of the comedy genre...he'd do well
to be a tad more picky. Some film music fans might say
the same thing to the composer. Be that as it may, fans can hope for
something more embraceable with Harry Gregson-Williams upcoming projects
like: SHREK THE THIRD, later this year, and PRINCE CASPIAN in 2008.
So many contemporary, psycho-thrillers these days
seem to beg for these synthesized, sonic-tugowars, so, most regrettably,
their respective soundtracks end up in a great pool of audio soup that
just isn't all that tasty. If a number could make a sound and have it's
own music, is this what "23" would be? Perhaps the Mayan apocalypse
sounds something like this, but I certainly hope our human chromosomes are
a little more stable than this score would represent.
||Finishing the Book
||Total Running Time (approx)