Wednesday, 24 August 2016

My Favourite Soundtracks: Young Frankenstein (1974)

Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein is one of the best film parodies ever made. Taking the monster horror films of the 1930s and 1940s as its subject, its attention to the details and themes of those films tell us that this parodic approach is done with love. Using black-and-white cinematography and the original sets of the 1931 Frankenstein adaptation, viewers could be forgiven for thinking they have stubbled upon a previously undiscovered Frankenstein picture from Hollywood's Golden Age; at least until we meet Dr. Frederick "Fronkensteen" Frankenstein (and then "I-gor").

When people think of music from the film, most probably think of the hilarious 'Puttin' on the Ritz' scene, where the Doctor and the Monster sing and dance to the famous song. Instead of filling the whole movie with such musical levity however, Brooks had composer John Morris compose music that drew viewers thoughts back to horror.

Young Frankenstein's main theme is the one of the best pieces of horror movie music ever created. It captures the fear and terror of the scientific experiments committed in films like Frankenstein, or the skewering of nature in The Wolf Man. However it is the melancholic nature of the violin solo that stands out, which wails the pain and loneliness of the monsters in these films. Indeed, when I watched the 1931 Frankenstein I had Morris' theme in my head.

For a film that is constantly subverting its audiences expectations, going for humour over fear, perhaps the greatest rug-pulling comes the score which, even when used in Brooks' film to tame the Monster, never loses its power.

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