Review: Merry War, A
4.5 / 5 Stars
This film, based upon a George Orwell book, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, is a early predecessor, if only due to sheer timing of it's original publishing date, to How To Get Ahead In Advertising. Funny enough that the start of the afore mentioned film, Richard E. Grant, is also one of the stars of this film about an advertising agent that falls into a Walter Mitty complex, and slowly looses touch with his job and his girlfriend (yes, parables can been seen between Microsoft employees' lives as well). He slips deeper into this "funk" only to loose his job and his girlfriend and while trying to figure out what he wants to do, slips into gutter life. Figuring this is by the same author who brought the 20th Century it's wake up call in the form of "1984", it's strange to find that the movie ends on a positive note with Grant's character, Gordon, regaining his job and his girlfriend Rosemary, played by none other than the charming Helena Bonham Carter.
The score is written by a relative newcomer to film scores, Mike Batt, but shows, in the span of a nicely produced album, that it is extremely mature and melodic. I even like the song tacked onto the end of the album, Tiger In The Night, which, by no fault of the composer, bears a distinct similarity to Patrick Doyle's Pardon Goddess of The Night from Much Ado About Nothing. This is not to take away from the quality and originality of this score, but to highlight the great tradition of memorable scores it emulates and honors. The main, and only, problem is, that a fine score like this will not be heard by the general public due to the "art house" label that has been applied to it by Hollywood power-brokers, thus limiting, automatically, it's viewership until a video or rental release is available. It is a very classically based score, with a suite in the first three tracks, integrating the main theme (heard later in the above mentioned vocal track, Tiger In The Night) along with a standard mini medley of music heard throughout the rest of the CD. It's also a very full CD release, chiming in at an astounding 68 minutes, with nice liner notes and generally good packaging. If there was at least one score, come Oscar time for 1998 films, that I could get folks to listen to that wasn't attached to a blockbuster alien/gross-out/shoot-em-up, this would be one of them. Treat yourself, and especially your ears, and find a copy of this score, you'll thank me for it later!
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