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  • Signs
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Customer reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:$123.76+ $2.97 shipping

on December 20, 2003
James Newton Howard's score for Signs has topped my collection. The sounds are simple and classic, yet very stimulating and adrenaline-pumping--akin to the famous strings in Psycho. The depth of the music is in its layers of instruments. The music complements the movie (the DVD of which I own) so well, reviving that Hitchcockian-style thriller I enjoy so much. In addition, I think the music captures so well the emotional plot within the story. I typically listen to movie music while driving. On many occasions, I drive with my two young sons to and from school. I watched Signs with them (editing out certain parts). Afterwards, we listened to the music in the car. The three sudden, loud, and scary parts (end of Brazilian Footage [Track 4], beginning of Asthma attack [Track 11] and Hand of Fate [Track 12]) made us all jump. And at every listen, at the climactic part, my younger son says "Swing away Merrill. Merrill, swing away." and then yells "WATER!" (sorry if you haven't seen the movie yet). You can't get a better response from a 3-yr-old. The music tells the story.
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on December 2, 2003
Listen. Just a soft single note. Suddenly WHAM! A shrill three note motif. One that literally sends chills down your spine. Listen to this in broad daylight. Chills. Listen at night. What was that? a door creaking open? Or was it Howard's score?
This CD will give you a slight uneasyness, like Funeral March for a Marionette (Alfred Hitchcock Presents). Buy this CD. Buy this CD.
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on October 30, 2003
I'll play the contrarian: I really enjoyed the film. The higher meanings and the semi-surprise ending worked for me. It's a spiritualized Twilght Zone episode.
James Newton Howard is so attentive to the plot and underlying emotions of each scene that the music becomes indispensable. Other reviews have rightly mentioned the Bernard Herrmann minimalism. The three-note motif is a similar tactic to the five-note signature of "Close Encounters." Howard's intent with the opening theme was to create what he called "[...]a context of expectations." The music telegraphs that at SOME point, something big is going to happen to go along with it.
Normally, the music will change to mark a shift in location (city, country, planet). Since nearly all of this movie occurs within 20 acres, the repetition and thematic simplicity reinforce the claustrophobic atmosphere of the film. Still, this presents exactly the same problem as with John Williams' score for "Minority Report." Parts of the score become TOO sedate when removed from the film.
The furthest Mel Gibson's character gets from the confines of the farm is in flashback dreams of his wife. In turn, that memory keeps him cooped up under his roof, trying to hide from God. Howard uses warm strings to signify the issue of faith gently working its way back into the Hess household. Changing which instrument does the three-note trickle greatly varies its mood and effect.
The subdued nature of the score also gives the crescendos more punch ("Into The Basement," "Asthma Attack," and "The Hand of Fate - Part I") There's a thread of heartland Americana in the gentler parts of the score, particularly in "The Hand of Fate - Part II."
The music and the film are a great partnership. On its own, the soundtrack is worth getting for the energy of the first track, and of the last three.
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on July 31, 2003
I've really enjoyed James Newton Howard's work on the films of M. Night Shyamalan. "Unbreakable" was really a standout score for Howard, so I had high hopes for his music for "Signs." Though Howard takes a completely different approach to his music for "Signs," I was not disappointed in the least.
"Signs" is a movie that hearkens back to some classic suspense films, such as Hitchcock's "The Birds," which Shyamalan mentions specifically as part of his inspiration for "Signs." It's a film which borrows heavily from some of the best suspense films ever made, but puts it in a modern context and peoples it with vibrant characters. With this in mind, it should not be at all surprising that Howard took a similar approach for his music for the film.
The opening theme of "Signs" is strongly reminiscent of some classic suspense themes, particularly those of Bernard Herrmann. When I first heard it, it put me in mind of those old thrillers of Hitchcock's, which sets the stage perfectly for the film. The same sort of adapted classic thriller theme is used at several points through the film, most noticably in the final scenes (on the CD, in "The Hand of Fate").
Throughout his score for "Signs," Howard repeats and builds upon a three-note motif that changes its nature depending on the scene. The same basic three notes are used to express the suspense of "Roof Intruder," the mystery and wonder of "Baby Monitor," the restrained tension and release of "Asthma Attack," and the triumphant conclusion of "The Hand of Fate." The three-note motif is, in fact, present through a great deal of the score, though sometimes more clearly than others. It's a remarkably effective musical device, elusive yet instantly identifiable. It keeps the viewer firmly grounded in the film, while the variety of ways in which it is used provide all the necessary emotional impact. And, as an added bonus, it's wonderful to listen to on its own; beautifully ethereal.
James Newton Howard is a skilled composer, particularly when collaborating with M. Night Shyamalan. With "Signs," however, he has outdone himself, and crafted a score ideally suited to the themes and feelings expresses in the film. It is music which stands well on its own, even as it is tightly bound to the film it was written for.
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on July 15, 2003
I usually love James Newton Howards scores but this one seems to have something seriously missing. His previous work for M Night Shyamalan (Sixth Sense and Unbreakable) was fabulous but Signs seems like it was the wrong genre for him, or something.The whole thing just seems to be music effects with no real theme or emotion. At best this score sounds like a second rate Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Like the film itself, a real disappointment.
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on June 7, 2003
"Main Titles" is the reason to buy the score. It is short, but the suspenseful theme is great. Until the last free songs on the track, the rest of the score is filled with decent suspense themes. Some more vibrant themes come to live in the end. The CD is strong, but it does run too short and is still slightly dull for casual listening.
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on May 24, 2003
The Signs soundtrack is great; It was one of the best parts of the movie(in my opinion). The creepy three-note motif is present in practically every track here, and was a brilliant idea on James Newton Howard's half. While listening to the soundtrack, the frightening scenes from the movie will be recognizable, even though the main theme of the film is only three notes long. Most of the tracks are unnerving and creepy, but there are some(like Hand of Fate - part 2) that are very beautiful sounding. Either way, if you enjoyed the movie, you're definetly going to like this soundtrack, and even if you didn't like Signs, you just may like the soundtrack instead. One thing's for sure, I definetly didn't waste my money on this CD.
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on May 14, 2003
#1 is very cool and scary 5/5
and all of the other ones are about 4/5 it's a great cd i recomend this cd
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on April 29, 2003
I thought this music was so good it should've been nominated and won the academy award for "Best Original Score." The odd, unique sound caught my attention while watching the movie(which I also recomend),and I said "I've got to get this soundtrack!" I have a collection of soundtracks and this is definently one of my favorites.
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on April 26, 2003
Signs was a great movie, and it's soundtrack was good too. The first song had to be the best, repeating the same simple notes over and over again. I could see that song being used in Haunted houses during Halloween. It's creepy.
They only problem was that after a while, the repeating of the same 3 notes got kind of boring.
Overall, it's still a good cd.
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