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Soundtrack review: Adam resurrected (Gabriel Yared – 2008, 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Adam resurrected (Gabriel Yared – 2008, 2017)


“Adam Resurrected”  is a 2008 American-German-Israeli film, directed by Paul Schrader and adapted from Yoram Kaniuk’s novel of the same name published in Israel in 1968. The film, part of which is told through a series of flashbacks, follows the story of Adam Stein (Jeff Goldblum), a charismatic patient of a fictitious psychiatric asylum for Holocaust survivors in Israel, in 1961. Adam was a comedian in Berlin prior to the war, during which he was sent to a concentration camp. Adam manages to survive the war only because his pre-war act was recalled by an S.S. guard (Willem Dafoe), who takes Adam as his “pet,” insisting he act like a dog (as he did during one of his sketches). His humiliation was his ticket to survival, as he was even forced to play the fiddle as his wife and daughter are led to the gas chambers. While he is outwardly charming and witty, Adam is tormented by survivor’s guilt. The score was written by Gabriel Yared.

Gabriel Yared is unfortunately a rare presence in Hollywood movies these days; I don’t know why directors don’t work more often with him because to me there are very, very few composer who can write quiet, painful and simply beautiful emotion as well as him. The main theme includes a heartbreaking violin solo played so beautifully by a compatriot of mine, Bogdan Vacarescu; the solo violin has always been a vessel for Holocaust related emotions and things are no different here. Naturally I fall in love with this opening theme which leaves echoes inside me. The composer hints at how he will develop this score when he inserts small nuggets of piano and strings later in the theme to express the troubled mind of the main character. I would recognise the quiet sensitivity of a Gabriel Yared theme anywhere.

Yet this is not your regular Gabriel Yared score; in “Gina” (what is it with this name? I can name at least two more scores, “Miami Vice” and “Scarface” where a theme written for a girl called Gina has stuck with me for years) I discover a side of Yared I haven’t heard since the 80s, since his electronic beginnings. This is an ambient electronic cue with small flute inserts, a cue that just delights me with nostalgia. The score is as quiet as I expected but with a different sound. Since I am a huge fan of ambient music, I am a happy listener. I am surprised by “Laughter” which is anything but a happy cue. The sound of it gets uncomfortable and torturous to mimic the experience that Adam had.

There is a very interesting mix of electronic and solo orchestral in this score; take “Life and death” for example where the solo cello haunts a mostly electronic piece. This combination works heartbreakingly well under the wand of such a gifted composer. Blending ambient electronics with solo orchestral only makes this score even more haunting and affecting.

“Adam resurrected” is clearly one of the stranger and more complex Gabriel Yared compositions; as the story is about mental torture, guilt and surviving both the duality in the music and the way the solo cello, violin and piano moments interact with the electronic pieces explores the struggle of the mind and soul in the most terrible of conditions. Still a quiet and sensitive score, it does more than I expected in its quest to express emotion. As always Gabriel Yared delivers.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 44

Album excellence: 50%

Main Theme
Life and Death
Berlin 1950s
Adam and Gina in Bed
Boy Tries to Stand Up
Adam and Davey
Haifa Arrival
Adam’s Idea

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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