This week in Exploring Soundtracks, we’ll be finishing up our journey through the films of David Fincher.
It’s been a long, interesting ride these past several weeks. We’ve covered everything from “Seven”, to “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, while omitting Fincher’s first, “Alien 3”. Because, well, no one wants to go there.
Last week, we looked at the soundtrack to “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, the second of Fincher’s films to feature a soundtrack by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor. The duo must have done a great job in Fincher’s eyes, because once again, he asked them back to compose the soundtrack for “Gone Girl”.
The score for “Gone Girl” was nominated for the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media, as well as the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.
“Gone Girl” is a psychological thriller directed by David Fincher and written by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the 2012 novel of the same name that the movie is based on.
Set in rural Missouri, the film follows the story of the Dunnes, a seemingly blissful couple. Blissful, that is, until their fifth wedding anniversary when Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) goes missing. Her husband Nick (Ben Affleck), a former New York-based writer, quickly becomes the lead suspect in an investigation. The pressure from both the police and the media cause the image of the Dunne’s happy marriage to crumble away, and lead to even more questions.
Like they did with the soundtracks to both “The Social Network”, and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor manage to construct a soundscape that fits the mood of “Gone Girl” perfectly.
The film focuses in on a married couple, and the placid facade that they’ve constructed for themselves. Tracks like “Sugar Storm” tap into that energy with a subtle touch. Relaxing motifs and synth pads drift in the air, but under the surface, there’s a tension. A soft buzzing of electric feedback that lets the audience know what we’re seeing is not what it seems.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, David Fincher said that he got the inspiration for the direction the soundtrack needed to take by visiting a day spa. “I was listening to that calming, placating music and thought, ‘We need to tap into this.’ The movie is about the facade of the good neighbor, the good Christian, the good wife.”
The soundtrack developed by Ross and Reznor is filled with ambient tracks that at first appear calming and pleasant. But there is always a shadow just beneath the sparkling surface, growing larger as the film progresses. “With Suspicion” is one that builds to a harsh, teeth-grinding static, that eats away at the calming tones like a black hole, stretching and warping the sounds to reinforce the sense of overwhelming dread and unease.
The restrain and control demonstrated by Ross and Reznor’s compositions is nothing short of impressive. “Background Noise” is another track that follows a similar pattern. It opens with a somewhat pleasant and meandering piano melody, accompanied by ambient drones. The sparse, quiet theme slowly builds in unsettling synth tones, but never breaks down into anything more sinister.
Other tracks like “Secrets”, “Still Gone” and “Consummation” throw subtlety to the wind with abrasive and anxiety-inducing electronic sounds. “Secrets” is full of chaotic buzzing and screeching, a schizophrenic nightmare come to life. These tracks are where we finally see the facade lift, and darkness slipping through the seams .
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have proven time and time again that they know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to crafting a sonic landscape of dread, and unease. The tension leaks through each track, and instills every scene of “Gone Girl” with a kind of anxious energy that doesn’t let up.
Well, that about wraps up our walk through the soundtracks of David Fincher’s films. If you’re looking for ambient, driving, tension-filled music to listen to while you study or work, you could do worse than choose any of the soundtracks we’ve covered so far.
Next week, we’ll start over again with another director, and start the process of combing our way through their films one at a time.
01. What Have We Done To Each Other?
02. Sugar Storm
03. Empty Places
04. With Suspicion
05. Just Like You
07. Clue One
08. Clue Two
09. Background Noise
11. Something Disposable
12. Like Home
13. Empty Places (Reprise)
14. The Way He Looks At Me
15. Technically, Missing
18. Strange Activities
19. Still Gone
20. A Reflection
22. Sugar Storm (Reprise)
23. What Will We Do?
24. At Risk