Tuesday, March 5, 2013


"Dream of the Witches' Sabbath" by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind
as seen and heard in
The Shining (1980)

A Stanley Kubrick film ("2001: A Space Odyssey") kicked off the Movie Music Moment series and now we're back to his portfolio in this consideration of the opening credits for his horror classic, "The Shining." The progressive blasts of the haunting melody begin as soon as we cut to the picturesque mirroring lake in the Colorado mountains. It is an electronic score composed by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind who previously worked with Kubrick on "A Clockwork Orange. The theme is based on the 5th Movement of Hector Berlioz's Fantastic Symphony, a piece entitled "Dream of the Witches' Sabbath."

The camera flies towards an islet in iconic straight-forward Kubrick form only to take a gut-turning canted flight right past it. Right away we're unsettled from the scenic views set to a score that feels wickedly reverent. We get aerial shots of the Torrance family's drive along a windy road through the coniferous troops (a shot that will be re-used in countless horror films to come). The soundtrack moves to a higher key than the remarkable low it began with as the altitude increases and the air grows thin. The simple credits scroll upward as the symphonic notes pause for eerily human-like wailings to echo through the mountains. It's one of the most unnerving beginnings for one of the most terrifying films ever made. The soundtrack is a distinctive trait for a film that's slowly brought to a boil.

Look forward to more Movie Music Moments each and every Monday! Give your thoughts on this one or share one of your own in the comments below.

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