Nitin Sawhney’s specially commissioned soundtrack of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog fuses the archetypal musical signatures of cinematic suspense in a melodic, contemporary style.
Composing a score to a Hitchcock film – and therefore following in the footsteps of the great Bernard Hermann – must be a daunting task. Nitin Sawhney’s almost schizophrenic musical imagining of Hitchcock’s 1927 silent masterpiece blends symphonic homage to classical scores of old with a twenty-first century vibrancy. The ostinato violins that propel tension in the famous Psycho shower scene are borrowed to increase tension while melodramatic brassy notes recall the main theme from Vertigo. Its tone lacks the same dramatic gusto but to even attempt to replicate such iconic works would have been misguided.
The immersive music accompanies every movement as Sawhney interprets Hitchcock’s directorial wit. A bouncy, jazzy motif is almost Chaplin-esque for its innocent humour before more sinister interludes denote the arrival of the lodger (Ivor Novello) on screen while violins shriek as the unknown murderer strikes again.
Although a Jack the Ripper story of a killer on the loose, The Lodger contains moments of sweetness and Sawhney’s score reflects these quieter moments and even adds to the charm – particularly with the moving ‘The Big Love Theme’ and ‘Sister’s Death.’ The arrival of a vocal with the hazy, trip-hop ballad ‘Daisy’s Song’ is a welcome surprise – an ultra-modern track that strangely compliments the archaic footage.
The critically-acclaimed Sawhney’s brand of genre-mixing adds a contemporary, quirky twist to Hitchcock’s vintage film. A unique combination of image and music; the composition is an interesting, conceptual supplement to the breath-taking visuals.
Nitin’s soundtrack is available on CD from 23rd July 2012.