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White Dog
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • Film Score Monthly Vol. 13 No. 3 / 2010 / 67:58

A film that was so controversial, it was never even released in cinemas by its studio (Paramount), White Dog is about a dog which has been programmed to be racist and attack black people and the attempts to “cure” it.  Finally released on DVD in 2008, people could finally tell that of course the film itself isn’t depicting a racist message, though it does end up with a downbeat conclusion that the “cure” isn’t really possible.  For the music, director Samuel Fuller turned to Ennio Morricone, just starting to work slightly more on Hollywood films (but of the two he worked on in 1982, one – this – wasn’t even released, and the other – The Thing – saw most of his music being chopped out).  Morricone’s approach was quite familiar – he composed four main themes which were adapted to make up pretty much all of the score.

The music plays almost like a mournful elegy, a highly-classical sound (unmistakably Morricone’s) accentuated by the particularly crisp recording of the strings by Dan Wallin.  It’s sad music – but very beautiful.  Each of the themes leaves an impression, each is memorable and impressive.  Strings, winds and piano dominate the sound the composer created for the film, and (save for a little source music) the atmosphere is very carefully maintained throughout the album.  This album (with strong notes from Jason Comerford and excellent sound) contains the complete score in chronological order with various alternates, but thoughtfully does include the playlist for the proposed album which would have been released at the time of the film if the film itself had been released.  It’s not a major work by this composer’s standards, but very nice to have it released at last after all these years.  ***

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  1. Nifoccer (Reply) on Friday 10 August, 2012 at 01:04

    It may not be a mayor work in standards of film composing – he didn’t write complex themes here – but I seldom heard filmmusic that cut so deep into my soul. It’s so utterly mournful, so tragic. Way too tragic and sensitive actually, Fuller’s movie wasn’t up to it. The girl acted badly to begin with. So I wasn’t moved by the film, I was moved by the music. A masterpiece, and a wasted one. And the new record release is a blessing.