Death Wish (1974)

“Death Wish” (1974)


bending the mood

This is an ordinary film experience, rooted in a number of cinematic common places and character conventions, enhanced by a sublime soundtrack.

The character is what it is. I think Bronson’s stereotype of the lovable thug was invented here. Previously there was what Leone made of him, overcoming his obvious limitations as an actor by clever close-up framing, impeccable timing and editing, and sound environment. That’s what Leone did, by the way, with a great number of other actors. Here he invents the tough guy, bit by some tragedy in the past, overcoming it by violence, isolation, and “doing the right thing”. This is his seminal character, and it lasted long enough to allow Bronson to become a sort of a pre-Stallone kind of character. That’s why this character was remade another 4 times after this one. So this justice maverick was at this point a kind of a new iteration of a character archetype that goes a while back. That’s nice. I suppose that’s why this film is still mildly celebrated today.

But what makes me truly excited here is how Herbie Hancock handles the music. He is an important person, someone who bridged spacial moody jazz from Miles to our days, and pushed some sound and improvisation boundaries further. Here he does so with film music. He bases his music on a notion that Vangelis with masterly explore in Blade Runner: it’s about musical themes, it’s about environment. You can pick up the mood and use music to build it, or you can pick up the specific emotions of the plot points, and enhance them through music. Here he does both. New York by night, and suspense. The main character, whom we follow endlessly being an architect, someone who bends the environment through buildings, as much as Hancock bents it through sound.

Vincent Gardenia’s character is memorable.

The roughness of the rape/killing scene is also remarkable. The visceral grittiness of it sets perfectly the mood for the story.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb


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