Sony Classical SK 89171
Total running time: 61'53
For centuries TITUS ANDRONICUS, Shakespeare's earliest play, has been the subject of hot debate. Regardes as his most successful potboiler in his own day, the polite centuries, before our own, were shocked by the juxtaposition of heightened drama, ruthless violence and absurdist black comedy. It is precisely these characters that fascinated and convinced me that the play was ripe for adaption to film, speaking directly to our times; a time when racism, ethnic cleansing and genocide have almost ceased to shock by being so commonplace and seemingly inevitable. Our entertainment industry thrives on the graphic details of murders, rapes and villainy, yet it is rare to find a film or play that not only reflects the dark events but turns them inside out, probing and challenging our fundamental beliefes on morality and justice. For TITUS is not a neat or safe story where goodness triumphs over evil but one in which, through its relentless horror, the undeniable poetry of human tragedy emerges in full force, demanding that we examine the very root of violence and judge it's various acts.
Modern Rome, built on the ruins of ancient Rome, offered the perfect stratification for the setting of the film. I wanted to blend and collide time, to create a singular period that juxtaposed elements of ancient barbaric ritual with familiar, contemporary attitude and style.
Elliot's score embodies this concept perfectly. It seamlessly draws on the ancient and the contemporary - from archaic choruses to big band to rock and roll - combining his immense orchestral grasp with an indomitable sense of play. - Julie Taymor
"O CRUEL, IRRELIGIOUS PIETY!"
With this oxymoron - the Goth Queen Tamora's plea to spare her some from being sacrificed at the hands of the Adronici - Shakespeare starts the engine that drives the play - the engine that drives my music. it is fueled by the combustion of opposites: vengeance and forgiveness, purity and defilement, the grotesque and the sublime. But there is another byproduct - for this lamentable tale of woe oddly yields a great deal of irony and humor.
In perhaps one of Shakespeare's most absurdist moments (Act III, scene i) the two heads of Titus' wrongly accused sons, and the General's own severed hand, are cruelly returned to him outside his home. At this nightmarish presentation, Titus inexplicably breaks into laughter. He then commands his handless daughter, Lavinia, to take up his severed hand between her teeth and enter the house. Performance after performance, production after production, audiences nervously laugh at this scene, thus falling into Shakespeare's ingenious trap: the playwright has devilishly induced the audience into a similiar state to Titus' - involuntarily laughing at the horror. Such unexpected juxtapositions forced me to find unexpected musical solutions.
But let me take you back to the beginning. Almost one year prior to the commencement of principal photography on TITUS, I was encouraged by Julie Tamor and scenic designer Dante Ferretti to accompany them on location scouting in Rome. On day one, glancing at the Palatine Hills from a 1998 Fiat, we saw the great Circus Maximus with the ruins of privileged patricians' villas perched overhead, and I heard in my mind's ear an archetypal ancient percussion ensemble. In that same moment another car pulled up alongside ours, equipped with a sub woofer - with the pentameters and heameteres of hip-hop blasting through every window. The music cross-faded as I watched a group of Andean pan flut players in native Bolivian garb hawking their tapes and playing their music which was almost drown out by an Elvis impersonator with a cheap Karaoke setup - replete with cheesy reverb - singing "Jail House Rock" in Neopolitan dialect...well, you get the idea.
My mind was put at ease: In Rome - as in this film - it is possible in an instant to embrace eons. - Elliot Goldenthal
Titus Original Motion Picture Soundtrack © 2000 Sony Music Entertainment