Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Thoughts on The Social Network

When I reviewed The Social Network I focused a lot on the movie's incredible score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. I said then and still think now that the music is one of the most unique and memorable aspects of the film, adding to if not defining the sense of impending doom that pervades throughout. After posting the review I received a number of complaints for focusing too much on the music, and also for not mentioning Aaron Sorkin's script. I want to take a quick moment to address a few of those concerns.

With regards to my focus on The Social Network's soundtrack, I maintain that it is among the most original and emotive scores in recent memory. The music stands on its own and gracefully improves the film, and moreover is itself improved by its relationship with the visuals. It will be a damn shame if it doesn't win the Academy Award (or is absurdly disqualified for its use of Edvard Greig's "In The Hall of the Mountain King"). Still don't believe me? Fine, don't take my word for it, check out a recent article over at /Film on what the opening scene could have been. You'll recall that the final cut uses Reznor's chilling "Hand Covers Bruise" to juxtaposition naïveté and dread right from the start. Well evidently the original choices for the soundtrack included Paul Young's "Love of the Common People" and Elvis Costello's "Beyond Belief." I think it's safe to say we ended up with the best option.

Finally, on the subject of the script, I did not mean to sell Aaron Sorkin short. I consider him to be one of the finest contemporary screen writers and I always thoroughly enjoy his work. The only reasons I failed to mention him in my review were that I was working with a tight word limit and, frankly, I didn't think The Social Network was his best work. The dialogue is great, don't get me wrong, but I really felt that Sorkin had delivered better material in the past. To a certain extent I still feel this way, but having seen the movie again over the holidays I will admit that the script is better than I initially thought. More than that the film as a whole actually got better with multiple viewings, but the dialogue in particular impressed me more than the first time around. It's quick witted in a way that is completely unnatural but never so much so that it feels that way and draws you out of the experience. I still don't think it's Sorkin's finest work, but that just speaks to his great potential.

On that note, I want to leave you with a scene from The West Wing, a show that consistently demonstrated Sorkin's incredible talent for dialogue. Annoyingly I can't embed the scene but follow this link to watch it in all its awesomeness. For the uninitiated, this scene comes at the end of the first episode and shows the first introduction of the President, played by Martin Sheen. It's a longer clip but totally worth watching. Sheen's "I am the lord they god" speech still blows me away every time I watch it, it's just so fucking brilliant. Enjoy.

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