Album: Jarhead: Original Soundtrack

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Jarhead: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Artist: Thomas Newman
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Label: Decca

For his third collaboration with director Sam Mendes (after American Beauty and The Shawshank Redemption), composer Thomas Newman has come up with one of his finest scores. The music mixes modern atmospheric quasi-rock touches with Middle Eastern influences (with particularly great success on the tracks “Welcome to the Suck” and “Zoomies.”). The latter manifest themselves in both the beats and the instrumentation—the credits include soloists on exotic instruments such as the bowed cumbus (a type of banjo-like lute) and the processed xaphoons (a sax…

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For his third collaboration with director Sam Mendes (after American Beauty and The Shawshank Redemption), composer Thomas Newman has come up with one of his finest scores. The music mixes modern atmospheric quasi-rock touches with Middle Eastern influences (with particularly great success on the tracks “Welcome to the Suck” and “Zoomies.”). The latter manifest themselves in both the beats and the instrumentation—the credits include soloists on exotic instruments such as the bowed cumbus (a type of banjo-like lute) and the processed xaphoons (a sax made of bamboo). All the more jarring, then, when the CD’s handful of songs pop up. (It’s quite a jolt to hear Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” after four eerie instrumental tracks.) The other song picks are obvious but well chosen: T-Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On),” “Naughty by Nature’s “O.P.P.,” Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” and Tom Waits’s “Soldier’s Things.” Still, it’s Newman’s work that propels this CD, not the pick-up songs. Surprisingly, Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” which figures in one of the movie’s most memorable scenes (when soldiers watch Apocalypse Now), isn’t included here. —Elisabeth Vincentelli

Related Works

Book:Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

Anthony Swofford

Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead is the first Gulf War memoir by a frontline infantry marine, and it is a searing, unforgettable narrative.

When the marines—or “jarheads,” as they call themselves—were sent in 1990 to Saudi Arabia to fight the Iraqis, Swofford was there, with a hundred-pound pack on his shoulders and a sniper’s rifle in his hands. It was one misery upon another. He lived in sand for six months, his girlfriend back home betrayed him for a scrawny hotel clerk, he was punished by boredom and fear, he considered suicide, he pulled a gun on one of his fellow marines, and he was shot at by both Iraqis and Americans. At the end of the war, Swofford hiked for miles through a landscape of incinerated Iraqi soldiers and later was nearly killed in a booby-trapped Iraqi bunker. …[more]

Film:Jarhead (2005)

Jarhead

Sam Mendes

Based on Anthony Swofford’s excellent memoir about his experiences as a Marine Sniper in Gulf War I, Jarhead is a war movie in which the waiting is a far greater factor upon the characters than the war itself, and the build up to combat is more drama than what combat is depicted. To some viewers hoping for typical movie action, this will seem like a cruel joke. But it’s not. It’s just the story as it was written, and if you liked the book, you will probably like the movie. If you didn’t, then the movie won’t change your mind.

The movie follows the…

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