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Welcome to Marwen
  • Composed by Alan Silvestri
  • Intrada / 58m

Robert Zemeckis’s strange Welcome to Marwen follows a man who tries to deal with his PTSD suffered after a violent attack on him by constructing a fictional village (the titular Marwen) and living out various fantastical storylines. I often jokily say in these introductions that a ludicrous plot is based on a true story; this one apparently actually is. The film was widely panned and has attracted very little audience, but it does give film music fans yet another artefact from one of the most enduring composer/director partnerships in Hollywood, that between Zemeckis and his longstanding collaborator Alan Silvestri, their 17th film together. It must have been a tricky film for Silvestri to really get the tone right for – his score manages to have a dual personality of its own, one part light and sweet and pastoral, the other militaristic. The opening cue presents both of these personalities – the warm main theme opens it up before the militaristic action theme takes over. The latter reminds me very much of Elmer Bernstein’s music for comedies in the 1980s, remaining resolutely tuneful and really rather bright; its B-section is unmistakably Silvestri. A third theme (also militaristic, though a little more gentle) is then introduced in the following cue, “You Are Saved”.

The first full-scale take on the main theme comes in the gorgeous “Finally Got it Right”; later, the melancholic, very gentle “You Got This” is really touching, the standout “Beautiful Moon” presents separate melodic material for much of its length but briefly dallies around the theme, “Crippled by Fear” sees the theme disguised in a sorrowful arrangement before its lilting beauty is heard again in a solo piano variant, and the finale “Marwencol” is really gorgeous. There’s also a lot of action music here, much of it built on those two themes heard at the start of the album following the main theme. The pick of this is the two-part “Hogie vs Meyer” late on the album, which sees the composer bring out all his familiar (and effective) tricks in his frequently-heard stop-start style (the second part especially is really stellar). In between all this, there are some suspense cues – Silvestri ditching the brightness for these and building some genuine tension – the second half of “Magic” is a real nail-biter in particular. The lengthy end credits piece summarises the main themes very nicely. The veteran composer enjoyed a stellar year in 2018, writing one of his best scores (and themes) for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One and then climbing back on board the Marvel juggernaut with Avengers: Infinity War. Welcome to Marwen is more of a curio than those two – an entertaining score, by far his most dynamic and memorable for Zemeckis in a number of years, but also a somewhat disjointed one (by design) which can make it a more uneven listen when it comes to the album.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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