The Mind Benders (1962)

December 18, 2007

I just watched “The Mind Benders” a fascinating film directed by Basil Dearden and starring Dirk Bogarde about the alleged dangers of sensory depravation, a topic that predates “Altered States” by ten years. The score was by French composer Georges Auric (1899 – 1983). The score seems over-composed, like he’s working too hard. It takes the mickey-mousing technique of music following action to an extreme that becomes tiresome. His technique is flawless, the music is lovely: it just tries too hard. Dearden clearly wanted it as there are whole stretches of the film where there is no sound or dialog, just music.

Nonetheless, this was an interesting film and one worth watching, and hearing.

benders.jpg

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

PK December 19, 2007 at 1:18 am

I would agree, the score is a bit rich and over the top, but I think we may suffer from our position in the future. Many of the old line composers were beginning to weigh a bit too frilly and nineteenth century by the sixties . I actually believe that was at the core of the split between Hitchcock and Herrmann. The style was still not so outrĂ© that we might have noticed it in its own time. Although there seems to be a goodly amount of score for its day, it is very light in music by today’s standards.

I am not sure I get your usage of the “term “mickey mousing” in this film, except in its broadest sense. Auric certainly attempts some clumsy gestural bits around bicycles and falling leaves and such, almost as if he was bereft of any idea what to write so he kept busy with that. His lack of strict accuracy makes me wonder if he used a Steiner (clicked) or Newman (streamers and punches) technique (I seem to remember a closer sync in his The Man In The White Suit). There does seem to be a more then tasteful amount of stingers. As Roger Kendall and Scott Lipscomb (somewhere around your building) pointed out over ten years ago, a certain amount of temporal synchronization between visual and musical elements seems to help a sense of “appropriateness” in the film/music relationship. Perhaps it is always a question of where, how and to what one synchronizes.

I am a huge fan of Bogarde, I really wish Alain Resnais’ Providence would get DVDed (both Bogarde, and Rosza’s last score).

Roger Bourland December 19, 2007 at 7:30 am

I meant that when the car drives down the street, we have car driving down the street music, in a particular mode or key, and then the shot changes and the mode changes and the phrase changes at the same time. Maybe I’m too sensitive to it. In the long run, I could see it as a transitional stage away from the Tom and Jerry style Mickey Mousing where nearly every gesture on screen is emulated in the orchestra.

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