Musings About Music In Film

Cat's Eye

cats-eye-troll1 We're used to huge orchestral extravagance from Alan Silvestri. Whether it's the crashing themes of Back To The Future or the swirling magnificence of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, he's rightly seen as one of Hollywood's most prominent purveyors of the traditional symphonic sound. Cat's Eye, however, is a different kettle of fish altogether. Or kettle of cats. Felines?

An anthology based on stories by Stephen King - and written by him - Cat's Eye has two real things in common throughout the picture: the cat, and Silvestri's score. The backbone of the story is a cat which needs to get to a little girl so he can rescue her from a troll, and along the way he gets into sticky situations, with a very insistent stop smoking organisation and a terrifying walk around the ledge of a incredibly tall building. The cat is always on the move and Silvestri uses two central themes to emphasise this; the first a speedy and mischievous line that suggests propulsion, and the second a big bold melody that acts as a heroic motif for the cat.

Interestingly, while Cat's Eye is purely performed via electronic instruments, Silvestri still treats the score as symphonic, in regards to structure and colour. It's not difficult to imagine the melodies being played by an orchestra, but given the quirky nature of the film the synth approach has great effect. It's a fascinating score, straddling the line between action and horror. And while the film is perhaps not as overtly horrific as the material King is known for, there are themes and ideas here that are very scary and surprisingly human. Well, except for the troll.

While keeping the same basic themes, Silvestri alters the material depending on the segment in hand. The first, "Quitters, Inc" has a nightmarish feel that's certainly the darkest of the three, which really mirrors the source. "The Ledge" feels perhaps lighter in tone, but with the murky undercurrent underneath. "The General" however suitably goes into monster movie mode, with a fun motif for low synth that sounds gutteral, which is contrasted by some lovely sweet Amblin-esque material for the girl. Silvestri also uses ethereal colour to punctuate each segment, which features the cat seeing visions of the girl asking for help.

Intrada's release has first-rate sound, with the synth tones beautifully clear. The album is expanded from the original Varese Sarabande LP - this is the first time the score has been issued on CD - and John Takis' liner notes are, as always, highly informative. Some may be hesitant at the use of electronics, but Silvestri should be given the benefit of the doubt. Composed at the same time as the iconic Back To The Future, Cat's Eye certainly shares some interesting similarities, but should be treated as what it is - a fantastic score in its own right.

-Charlie Brigden

Cat's Eye is available now from Intrada Records