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Soundtrack review: The accused (Brad Fiedel – 1988, 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The accused (Brad Fiedel – 1988, 2018)

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“The Accused” is a 1988 American courtroom drama movie directed by Jonathan Kaplan from a screenplay written by Tom Topor. The film stars Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis in the lead roles alongwith Bernie Coulson, Leo Rossi, Ann Hearn, Carmen Argenziano, Steve Antin and Tom O’Brien in supporting roles. The film is set in Washington state and was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The film was loosely based on the 1983 gang rape of Cheryl Araujo in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and the resulting trial, which received national coverage. It is the only Hollywood film to portray rape graphically. In the film Sarah Tobais, a young waitress is gang-raped by three men at a local bar, she and her district attorney Kathryn Murphy set out to prosecute the rapists as well as the men who encouraged them. Brad Fiedel wrote the score.

Everyone know Brad Fiedel because he wrote one of the best themes in film music history, the Terminator theme. This is an entirely different kind of story. I always wondered why he disappeared off the radar these past 20 years actually. The start of “Main title” from “The accused” is a grave dramatic orchestral motif that uses the flute to represent the fragility of the victim. After that opening motif the electronic inserts that made Fiedel famous make an appearance but they fit with the drama. This opening cue reminds me of “It’s over” from T2. This fusion of a grave orchestral and punchy electronic is simple yet efficient. It is fascinating to me how many moments from this score sound similar to the warm emotional pieces from the two Terminator scores yet the tone is completely different. I couldn’t imagine this kind of music working for a drama. There’s something about characters named Sarah that inspires Fiedel to write emotional cues.

I enjoy the simplicity of the sound in “The accused” because it is ambient at it’s core with added warmth for the tender parts and pulsating electronics for the more dramatic ones like “Sarah crashes car”. This cue, also as a name, could very well feature on the Terminator score. The music never gets loud and keeps a permanent shade of sadness. The composer used imaginary gloves to handle this subject and the result was a lonely and deserted composition that manages to express the void the main character felt. Also there is that added nostalgia factor a Fiedel score always brings more me. This release is a welcomed expansion of my exposure to his music.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 10 / 24

Album excellence: 42%

Highlights:
Sarah on Phone / Frat House
Kathryn Drives to Sarah’s
Sarah in Hospital
The Verdict / End Credits

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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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