David Arnold: The Stepford Wives Main Title
The Stepford Wives is a 2004 science fiction-black comedy film directed by Frank Oz. The film stars big names such as Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walken. The story is based around a successful reality TV presenter whose career ends abruptly because of a controversial show. The presenter then moves to the quiet Stepford suburb in Connecticut where stories and secrets are revealed.
David Arnold composed the soundtrack for the film. An experience hand at film and TV soundtracks, Arnold has composed the scores for five James Bond films, Independence Day (1996), Godzilla (1998), as well as TV series Little Britain and Sherlock. Arnold has been nominated and also won awards for his scores, including a Grammy for ‘Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture’ for Independence Day, plus a Creative Arts Emmy for his work on the Sherlock soundtrack.
The Main Title to The Stepford Wives is intriguing in a number of ways, and it also tells us a lot about what might be to come, without using any words at all. Scored for orchestra, the Main Title is animated, yet mysterious in its delivery. The swaying 3/4 waltz that Arnold sets the theme in is like a grotesque joke of sorts. You can liken this kind of writing to that of Gustav Mahler in his First Symphony, with its ironic and comedy-fuelled third movement.
The melody is lyrical, although it sounds mechanical on some instruments. The ebb and flow from the accompanying orchestra adds to the general feel and pace of the piece. On the surface the music seems innocent but actually when you look a little deeper there’s a lot more going on than you think. This is perhaps a foreshadow of the film’s story. The dark humour threaded throughout this music is really effective, with the bassoon and clarinet solos really enhancing this idea. The Main Title concludes with the climax of the piece and united chords across the orchestra.
David Arnold’s Main Title to The Stepford Wives is full of twists, turns and dark humour. There are strong links to this style of music and the story that unfolds in the film, with Arnold’s clever orchestrations aiding with these effects. A really exciting Main Title that teaches you that not everything is as simple as it seems…
Ⓒ Alex Burns