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Obsession (1976)

Bernard Herrmann 

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A Magnificent, Haunting Score.
filmfactsman (April 8, 2006)
In 1976, Bernard Herrmann returned to familiar grounds to the suspense film in which he had identified himself so vividly, with this stylish, throbbing score for the film directed by Brian DePalma ("Sisters"), a thinly disguised remake and tribute to Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo". Like that film, "Obsession" deals with the anguish of a man (Cliff Robertson), still haunted by the kidnapping and apparent death of his wife 16 years before, who encounters a woman (Genevieve Bujoid) who bears an uncanny resemblance to her during a trip abroad. The mood of "Obsession" was quite unusual. The pacing was purposely slow, but it killed the film's commercial appeal when De Palma and his producer shopped for a distributor. The movie didn't see daylight for nearly a year after its completion. Finally, a deal came through with Columbia Pictures and the film was released--only one month before DePalma's "Carrie" and AFTER Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver", Herrmann's last score. Both "Obsession" and "Taxi Driver" were nominated for 1976 Academy Awards for Herrmann's music and possibly cancelled each other out (Jerry Goldsmith won that year for the inferior "The Omen"--Goldsmith's only Oscar). Elaborating on musical devises he had already utilized in "Vertigo", Herrmann wrote a sensational score, filled with powerful themes, ominously underlined by an organ, or a harp, sometimes with abrupt choral flourishes, in eerie evocations of a mystery that refuses to reveal itself. Shortly before his death, the composer assembled for this album the various cues in six mini-suites that present a stronger and more coherent vision of his music. The score marked another important milestone in the career of the composer. The limited CD, released in 1989 by Masters Film Music, is considered a prized collector's item well worth searching for, eloquently shows why. At the time of the films' release, many critics were compelled to write about Herrmann's superb score in their reviews: "Herrmann's music, beautifully recorded in London, is among his last and his best as well;" wrote 'Variety', "it would make blank film compelling." Well, thanks guys but we Herrmann devotees already knew that!

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