GOODIE – Jesper Hansen


Original Review by Alan Rogers

Goodie is a short drama film released in 2011 from The Red Dog Film Company, a “Community Interest Company”. A family of superheroes saves a community from natural disaster (tornadoes in Lincolnshire) but tragedy strikes the family and the remainder of the film deals with issues such as loss and grief. Young Danish composer Jesper Hansen focuses on the emotions associated with the impact of loss on those left behind (and in some ways, also on those who are dying), and delivers a memorable strings-based score which has, at its heart, an evocative adagio theme for the head of the superhero family.

Scoring for the format of a short film, Hansen’s score does not have the luxury of establishing the film’s musical world with a statement of a title theme. Instead, “The Tornado” jumps straight into the action as we see an overview of the the damage done by the passage of a recent twister, the arrival of the superheroes on the scene and then the rescue of several members of the community. An energetic string ostinato propels the action forward as these events unfold, swelling to a crescendo as the superheroes are enveloped by another tornado and then the orchestra falls quickly away and a calming solo female voice heralds the clearing of the tornado. The following track, “Adagio (For Brace)”, is the highlight track of this short score. Playing as a self-contained piece rather than a cue that follows the on-screen performance, strings (plus the additional of some ethereal wordless female vocals) adds an emotional weight to what could otherwise have been a rather flat scene: the family watches over their figurehead as he lies in hospital, dying from injuries sustained during the final tornado strike. The grave sense of loss the family feels is captured in Hansen’s heartfelt adagio theme. However, a brief statement of this adagio later in the score (“Be A Hero One Last Time”) hints that the theme also represents the strength Brace provides to the family – heightening the sense of impending loss to their previously-stable group. 

Although it is this adagio that is the emotional centre of the score, Hansen adds a variety of other elements that adds interest. His use of solo instruments at specific points in the film helps accentuate key emotional points: solo woodwind plays as Brace remembers his discovery of his special powers (“Reunion / Something Else Is Coming”) and solo piano underscores a scene where Boston, Brace’s daughter, uses her power to move into Brace’s mind and encourage him to face death (“Be A Hero One Last Time”). Another facet of the score, electronics, are used briefly whenever the ominous threat of Death is apparent (e.g., “Be A Hero One Last Time”) but, unlike the use of solo winds and piano, the use of these (sometimes grating) electronic effects detracts from the overall soundscape established by the prominent strings and sound somewhat out of place (particularly when heard separate from the film). Perhaps supporting Death with another solo orchestral instrument may have been a better choice. A strong solo voice adds another interesting colour to the score, providing both a calming effect (during the aforementioned “The Tornado”) as well as a sense of loss: for example, when Brace is the hero and finally embraces Death (“End Credits”). Hansen’s juxtaposition of this haunting female vocal in this final cue with a strong electric guitar riff heightens the sense of Boston taking control of the situation and leaving to confront the waiting press after the death of her father. The “End Credits” then draws a firm line under the action by having a distinctly rock feel to it that is quite different to the rest of the score.

Hansen’s score relies very heavily on the emotional power delivered by the orchestra and the members of the Danish Music Academy together with the composer’s orchestrations provide the necessary level of feeling in order to be a huge asset to the film. When heard in the context of the film however, Hansen’s music could have benefited from being mixed a bit more sympathetically. The score appeared to be mixed a bit too low in “The Tornado” to the point that it was difficult for the driving ostinato to add the level of energy that the music had on offer. In contrast, the music was a bit too prominently placed at several points meaning that some of the emotional power was lost because the music was just too loud (e.g., “Adagio (For Brace)”). Despite this, Hansen’s music for Goodie is excellent and is a great asset to the film and is well worth listening to away from the film. Currently unavailable commercially, at the time of writing of this review Hansen’s complete score can be heard on Soundcloud and the film can be viewed at Red Dog Film’s website.

Audio samples can be found HERE.

Rating: ***½

  1. The Tornado (4:18)
  2. Adagio (For Brace) (3:00)
  3. Reunion / Something Else Is Coming (2:34)
  4. You’re In Charge Now (1:48)
  5. Be A Hero One Last Time (3:24)
  6. End Credits (2:14)

Running Time: 17:20

Unreleased

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