Escape From Tomorrow (Abel Korzeniowski)Posted: February 28, 2013
Final Musings: Escape From Tomorrow showcases Korzeniowski’s knack for overachieving compositional efforts. The score presents musical diversity from the Golden Age style string writing to electronic ambiance with great success. And although the length of the album and lack of a thematic core will disappoint some, the outstanding highlights makes this more than worthwhile.
Disney’s long established reputation as the “Happiest Place on Earth” was threatened by one particular film that seemed to be hogging all the spotlight this year at the Sundance Film Festival. Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow follows a typical American family’s vacation to Walt Disney World, where every child’s dream turns out to be their disturbing nightmare. Almost satirical in nature, the film quickly rose to fame not only because of its strange content, but the strange nature in which it was filmed. Described by some as the ‘ultimate guerrilla film’, the project was filmed entirely on the amusement park grounds of Disney World and Disneyland without the permission and knowledge of the corporate giant. There was a lot of sneaking around, scripts being passed through iPhones and filming done largely on handheld digital cameras. Moore’s daring take on Disneyland and ambitious guerrilla techniques didn’t exactly produce a unanimously acclaimed film, it did rile up interest among critics. It won’t be long before Disney decides to sue, but in the meantime, the crew is enjoying the limelight.
Signed on, to both fans’ surprise and delight was composer Abel Korzeniowski, whom despite his two Golden Globe nominations, hasn’t quite lifted his career out of the somewhat limited circle of art-house films. The talented composer is known for both his poignant dramatic works for films like A Single Man and his rich, colourful style for fantasy works like Copernicus’ Star. Each score from him has something great to look forward to and enjoy.
Escape From Tomorrow does not fail to meet these conditions. But while the score has plenty to offer, it will both impress and leave some scratching their heads. For such a low-budget indie film, one can’t help but wonder what in the film could possibly warrant music at the heights of a cue like “the Grand Finale”. Be that as it may, Korzeniowski provides exactly the kind of over-the-top atmosphere the film needed.
It’s important to understand the mentality taken with the project before going into any in-depth analysis of the work. The score has no firm thematic core. Instead, the composer chooses to take a more scene-specific scoring approach to help enhance the abstract nature of the film. This is evident when observing the stylistic diversity of the score. Cues like “Gates of Tomorrow” and “Magic Kingdom” harken back to the days of classic romantic Golden Age themes. In contrast, “Mystery Man” and “Lost in Caves” offer more ambient electronic textures. While the lack of some form of continuity may be jarring, it’s quite understandable given the context and the effective nature of this idea.
Compositionally, the album has impressive material to offer. There are several cues that offer lush, high-string, melodically driven pieces. Korzeniowski’s nods to the musical style of the Golden Age in such pieces is an intelligent way to produce the illusion of paradise. His creativity also shines in “Fireworks”; an exciting rhythmic cue that takes after the likes of Copernicus’ Star. The employment of children’s voices act as a fun and clever addition, given the amusement park setting. The score then takes another direction with “Mystery Man”, where electronics and dissonance are employed to score the more bizarre events on screen. By this point, the listener will begin to get the sense of what this score is really doing. It’s all about atmosphere. The moods and tone of what’s going on screen is translated to the music in extreme ways, going with either the high romance of the “Magic Kingdom” cues or the contradictory unsettling textures of “Mystery Man”. The real highlight of the score however is “The Grand Finale”. It’s a stunning composition that will surely be looked at fondly by the end of 2013 as one of the year’s finest. Taking a wonderful theme and colourful orchestrations characteristic of the composer, the piece really soars, befitting of a classic Hollywood ending. A must-have for any collector of film music.
What’s most regrettable is that the album only offers about 20 minutes of material. Given the high quality stuff here, it’s rather disappointing to hear just glimpses of what would have made a fantastic hour long album. It also doesn’t help that 2 minutes of the running time are taken by the inconsequential song, “Imaginate” which might irritate some after the great piece that preceded it. It’s also a pity that there was no underlying device or mechanism apparent to preserve some sense of continuity. Of course, given the content, it’s understandable that the autonomous nature of the individual tracks was both intentional and necessary. But it would have been nice to have had him manipulate a single recurring theme in diverse stylistic settings. Be that as it may, this score offers plenty of great material one should not miss out on. It may be short, but it’s worth it, perhaps for the finale sequence alone. In the end, if an indie film Escape From Tomorrow got the score it did, then it once again proves that we need to hear Korzeniowski score a big-budget project and soon!
Rating: * * * *