Kid A’s Doll House

         One of my favorite things to do is to listen to music and try to put that artist's creation into a film that I have seen. This habit probably started when Prince came out with Purple Rain. The music was the basis for the movie. Other artists have excelled at the same task of writing a soundtrack based on a movie. Aimee Mann was Oscar-nominated for her musical inspiration for Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia (also, Oscar-nominated). Eminem won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2002 for his autobiography, 8 Mile. Harry Connick, Jr. went old-school with his versions of standards for the movie, When Harry met Sally… The most recent and best result of interpreting a movie into music is Badly Drawn Boy's soundtrack for the movie About a Boy.

         Both times I saw movie versions of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, respectively directed in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland, I thought of a Radiohead cd setting at the bottom of one of my cd towers. It seems as though the British rock group made the disc for the purpose of soundtracking the movie based on the Ibsen play. It reflects the despair of a woman trapped in an unfulfilling relationship as well as the clueless rejected husband's emotions. Radiohead makes ambiance music. It is often janglely guitars and repetitious lyrics. Their 2000 release, Kid A, is true to form.

         The title of the first song on the disk is "Everything in Its Right Place." This fits perfectly with Torvald's (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) manner. He is a control freak. Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) is living in his house, by his rules. The song repeats its title a few times and then repeats the phrase, "Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon." This also reminds me of Torvald and his constant negative attitude. A couple of songs later, "The National Anthem" gives great character development clues. Thom Yorke (Radiohead's singer) wails "so alone" and "everyone has got fear" over rhythmic beats and blaring trumpets. It gives you the indication that everything is not going to work out for these characters. On "Optimistic" it is almost as if Torvald could be speaking directly to Nora. "You can try the best you can. The best you can isn't good enough." And on the very next song, "In Limbo", it is as if Nora answers by telling Torvald, "You're living in a fantasy world. Don't bother me. I've lost my way." The whole time in the background another voice is pleading, "call me" as if it were Torvald not accepting her decision. "Morning Bell" is an ode to divorce. The lyrics say "release me…cut the kids in half…walking, walking, walking…" The music is haunting and sad. The last song on the disc is appropriately titled "Motion Picture Soundtrack." This song is perfect for closing credits. It mirrors Torvald's disbelief at Nora's dissolution of their marriage. "Little one, help me get back to the norm. I think you're crazy, Baby. I will see you in the next life." It is almost creepy how this song seems to wrap the film into a three-minute ballad.

         The music fits the mood of the movie. It ranges from spastic to subdued. The characters in the play seem to have the same range. Radiohead enjoy a political statement. A Doll's House is a political piece. So, if MTV wants to follow its tradition of butchering classic literature, maybe it can get Radiohead on board for soundtrack duty. I would watch it.

Bo Fowler

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