Thursday, April 01, 2010

In The Loop's End Credits Music

Armando Iannucci's In The Loop (2009) ends with two pieces of music. One is Bach's sublime Prelude #1 in C Major, i.e., the opening stanza of The Well-Tempered Clavier, which represents the Enlightenment, reason, the potential of the West - everything that we've seen painfully, hysterically go up in flames over the course of the film. The second is an uncredited but rather glorious new piece, apparently due to Adem Ilhan, for string quartet and a bunch of mallet instruments (and possibly a piano).

Ilhan's piece, which is our focus here, isn't as sedate or inherently optimistic as Bach's Prelude, hence its use isn't as straightforwardly ironic. Rather, Ilhan's piece functions as a come-down, chill out, sobering up, de-ironizing piece for the audience. It's melodically and timbrally plaintive and slightly skeptical, even as it's rhythmically insistent. We leave In The Loop entranced by the piece, but also somewhat saddened. It makes us think of the (likely now suicidal?) peripheral figure in the film who's (i) been playing classical music throughout, (ii) tries to do something noble (Spartacus-like) by volunteering to take the blame for a leak, (iii) is turned into the marionette typist of the doctored evidence in the film's ugliest scene, and who (iv) suffers the indignity of becoming the literal, final causus belli, "Debussy", at least insofar as any such thing exists. Ilhan's music's impact is huge in other words - in some respects it's the key to In The Loop's claim to be anything more than a silly pastiche and swearathon.

To be sure, one doesn't want to exaggerate the significance of a coda/recessional/outro that the many, restless and chattering never consciously hear. But one also doesn't want to underestimate such pieces or to assume away the sensitive end of a broad audience. The impact of Jaws is widely believed to have been measurably heightened and the film deepened overall by John Williams's haunting, perfectly timed end credits theme. And many classic TV series, from Mary Tyler Moore in the US to The Sweeney in the UK (an example possibly closer to Iannucci's and Ilhan's hearts?), featured reprising end credits themes whose contemplative force essentially every viewer felt at one time or another. I claim that In The Loop's end credits theme functions like these other landmarks. It's as strangely non-ephemeral in context as them, and may be objectively as good, however we finally account for such items and their power.

Unfortunately, as far as I know, there's been no official soundtrack or score released for In The Loop, and, as I write, Ilhan's original end credits theme isn't available anywhere. Maybe my posting the raw audio from the final three minutes of the film will inspire Ilhan (who apparently has some connections to Four Tet), or Iannucci, or whomever (Alex Ross from The New Yorker?) to release or agitate for releasing the track properly (on iTunes say). In The Loop may not contain enough music original or otherwise to warrant a score or soundtrack album, but a clean version of this lovely, important-in-context piece does deserve and need to be out there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis