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In 1999, Universal commissioned Philip Glass to compose a new score for Tod Browning's landmark horror classic Dracula, a common enough practice for silent films but unheard of for sound pictures. In some respects, Dracula lends itself to the treatment: only two pieces of music are heard in the otherwise scoreless original, and long passages are effectively silent but for sound effects and the hiss of early sound recording. During these moments, Glass's lovely score, performed by the Kronos Quartet, lays a foundation of dread and doom on the picture with arpeggios and chantlike melodies. The music carpets the film like a silent movie score, loosening Browning's often stiff style, smoothing over transitions, and filling in static shots with a fullness of sound. During the dialogue, however, the music fights the words, the crisp, precise sounds of modern digital recording colliding with the warm, often muddy 1931 analog soundtrack. At its best, it enriches and enlivens the sometimes stodgy classic, while at its worst it merely distracts. --Sean Axmaker
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