The “Requiem for a Dream” Soundtrack: Overused and Underappreciated

Requiem for a Dream. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s likely you’ve heard the title spoken before. It’s a dramatic horror film directed by Darren Aronofksy (Black Swan) that trails the adventures of four characters whose lives are forever altered by the presence of drugs and drug abuse. The movie is brilliant. It features some great shots, many of which use cameras mounted to the actors, a terrific pacing, excellent character development and a strong script. But another large factor in what makes the film what it is is the original score, composed by Clint Mansell, formerly of the pop-techno band Pop Will Eat Itself.

This was the second film score Mansell composed (after Pi, another film directed by Aronofsky), and this time he managed to conjure up an ingenious and iconic creation. The film’s main musical pieces were performed in no small part by the Kronos Quartet, a string quartet who harmoniously played some of the most well known parts of Mansell’s music.

The film’s main track, “Lux Aeterna” has been popularly remixed and used variously in several locations, from advertisements to trailers. Due to this, people have grown tired of it and it has lessened in popularity. I think this is tremendously unfair, since the film score as a whole (including Lux Aeterna) is a brilliant, clever work of art. And so, I am going to quickly analyse and review all the most notable of the 33 tracks:

1: Summer Overture (2:35)

The first track, from its blaring and stunning opening to its abrupt conclusion, is the perfect beginning. The instruments played by the quartet (two violins, a viola and a cello) are brilliantly triumphant. It works as a kicking beat, and plays along at a perfect rate.

2: Party (0:28)

3: Coney Island Dreaming (1:04)

A dreamlike state of drug-induced utopia.

4: Party (0:36)

5: Chocolate Charms (0:25)

6: Ghosts of Things to Come (1:33)

A moment of beautiful clarity where everything is fine, with shadows of the darkness around the corner.

7: Dreams (0:44)

8: Tense (0:37)

9: Dr. Pill (0:42)

10: High on Life (0:11)

11: Ghosts (1:21)

A much darker version of #6.

12: Crimin’ & Dealin’ (1:44)

An interesting techno pop track as the drug business is introduced.

13: Hope Overture (2:31)

The second of many variations of the main theme. This version has much more hip hop/pop elements, and the strings have quite a smooth edge.

14: Tense (0:28)

15: Bialy & Lox Conga (0:45)

An upbeat conga dance which is very out-of-place with the rest of the tracks. I dislike this, but still it manages to have an effect.

16: Cleaning Apartment (1:25)

The beginning of the second third of the album is a sharp bang and the main theme.

17: Ghosts-Falling (1:11)

Again, a darker and more intense version of #6.

18: Dreams (1:02)

19: Arnold (2:35)

There is a dark and scary sense of foreboding in this quite track.

20: Marion Barfs (2:22)

Another version of the main theme.

21: Supermarket Sweep (2:14)

An edgier and cooler version of #12.

22: Dreams (0:32)

23: Sara Goldfarb Has Left the Building (1:17)

Like track #19 before it, this track has a scary and intense feel to it, which builds to a crescendo as it progresses. The album is certainly getting darker.

24: Bugs Got a Devilish Grin Conga (0:57)

An unnecessary repeat of #15.

25: Winter Overture (0:19)

A short and sharp version of the main theme which is quick but effective.

26: Southern Hospitality (1:23)

A continuous, scary beat plays throughout this short track.

27: Fear (2:26)

A scary moodiness and various jumpy beats are doubtlessly going to shock but work very well.

28: Full Tense (1:04)

This quiet but moody piano theme has played twice already at least, but it never worked as well as it does here.

29: The Beginning of the End (4:28)

The longest track on the album is really just an assortment of samples of various scary beats. The abruptness of the beats works very well, however.

30: Ghosts of a Future Lost (1:50)

When played alongside the scene in which it appears, this track (like #32 after it) is likely to bring a tear to your eye.

31: Meltdown (3:55)

If you wanna be really scared, play this track. It is full of tension before finally its terrifying beat plays, striking the heart full of fear. It’s appropriate though, when you consider the scene in which it appears.

32: Lux Aeterna (3:54)

This is the main theme. Not the ridiculous, stupid Lord of the Rings remix. This is the original. And it works. It is terrifying, and sad. It’s the best track on the album, undoubtedly, and it works on so many levels, especially its repeat epilogue.

33: Coney Island Low (2:13)

This is nothing more than the sounds of waves and the ocean along the shore of Coney Island, and it serves no purpose other than to let the audience meditate for a minute and think about what they’ve just heard. It’s necessary.

So there you have it. The best tracks, with a short summary. You might ask, why must I do this? Does anyone really care? Probably not, but I decided to do this because I want more people to see the movie and hear the soundtrack. It’s beautiful, and like so many people, I feel I must share what I’ve experienced. I’m not advertising, I’m simply sharing my opinion.



About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on March 15, 2011, in Movies, Music and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Brilliant insight
    Accurately capturing the meaning of it all
    I’ve certainly come to appreciate the sounds of Darren

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