Film scores

Soundtrack review: 3:10 to Yuma (Marco Beltrami – 2007, 2015)

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The 2007 remake of “3:10 to Yuma” is the kind of movie I like to watch every time it’s on. This is a recital of two of the strongest actors of our generation, two leading man squaring of not in a clear battle of good versus evil but one with many shades and levels. Christian Bale is a one-legged impoverished farmer trying to provide for his family in times when their livelihood is threatened

Marco Beltrami is one of the most inventive and versatile composers working today and a complex western like this one must have been a feast to work on. Lucky for us listeners he brought his best game for this one and you can hear it from the get go. “Ben takes the stage – Dan’s burden” introduces us to our heroes / anti – heroes with a gritty and exciting theme. I’ve heard many Western scores from all the greats and this is how a modern western should sound like. There’s that constant rhythm in the background suggesting motion, riding or a stride and I can almost see the sunset and the vast plains the story takes place on. You can hear the modern instruments bringing polish and glow to the sound of 150 years ago. I feel as if I’ve known this theme for years. I rarely connect so well with a piece of music from the first listen.

You know that when Marco Beltrami is on his game you will get a fantastically interesting and entertaining score. He always experiments with sounds and there are times when his compositions are quite unique. A cue like “Bisbygliando” is something you’ve rarely heard before but it makes sense once you give it a couple of listens. This cue only makes me even more curious about what’s next.

What comes next is just as good and I don’t even know how he managed to echo “Barn burn” in a way that makes me feel as if it was recorded somewhere outdoors by a camp fire. I feel as if the music is free and dissipated in the evening air. You won’t be able to convince me that this cue was recorded in a studio, and there were many times during “3:10 to Yuma” when I felt the same. It’s as if all walls crumbled and the scenery around me suddenly turned into that of the movie.

The more I listen to this score the more every word I would have to say about it morphs into one: fascinating. This is the only attribute of “3:10 to Yuma” that seems to fit. The music is alive… the music is stalking me… the music plays hide and seek… the music is as intimate as my own thought one moment and then the music goes up in smoke or explodes as if from nowhere with the strangest instrument sounds in the next. Marco Beltrami’s western sound in this one is the distant cousin of the sound Nick Cave and Warren Ellis made theirs in a few scores. There’s nothing heavy in this shape shifting score, there’s no extra fat or excess emotions. “3:10 to Yuma” is as raw and powerful as they get. Yes you have the harmonica that shouldn’t miss from any western score but even this one is used in the most interesting ways by Beltrami.

At times the feeling of being outdoors gets so powerful that I am starting to get visions of someone playing the guitar right next to me. I can almost taste the dust and smell the coating of that instrument. Did a spark from the fire just burn me? “One for the road / Storm clouds” has to be one of the most surreal cues Beltrami has ever written. I remember last year’s “The homesman” and hot it made me feel. I’m glad I get to discover the roots of that sound.

“3:10 to Yuma” by Marco Beltrami is a fascinating musical experiment worthy of the actors and the script. Or, should I say, this score is just as intriguing and rewarding as a movie featuring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe at the top of their game should be. I am happy that I got to discover this complete edition and this is one score that won’t leave my iPod. This is truly one of the best Western scores I’ve ever heard.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 57

Album excellence: 68%

Highlights:

Main Title

Ben Takes The Stage/Dan’s Burden

Man Of His Word

Bisbygliando

Barn Burn

Indian Grounds

One For The Road/Storm Clouds

Trial By Fire

Ben There, Done That

Ben Arrested

It’s Time

Hotel

One Man Left

Bible Study

The 3:10 To Yuma

Bonus Track: Stagecoach Crash (Alternate)

Bonus Track: Charlie Prince

Bonus Track: Saving Mcelroy

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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