Music Break + Cinematography Appreciation: The Dark Valley (2014)

MusicBreak_DarkValley

Boy it’s been over a month since I made a Music Break post. I’ve just recently re-watched this schnitzel western, a grossly underrated gem of a movie, and since been obsessing over its soundtrack. I never would’ve seen this if it weren’t for Sam Riley, but having a crush actually helps broadens my cinematic horizon 😉 He’s the only non-German actor in the role, though his character is a Texas Cowboy!

The first time around I saw it, I found the modern music for a film set in the 19th century to be a bit odd, but y’know what, the anachronism actually grows on me. I mean, I actually like what Baz Luhrmann does with his period films such as Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby, sometimes to great effect. German composer Matthias Weber did a fine job in creating an ominous, haunting tone to his score that fits the eerie, atmospheric feel of the film. This site describe it well “[Weber] blends classical music elements with ambient, electronic textures and rhythms…” The score won one of the nine German Academy Awards (Lola) nominations.

These two are my favorite instrumental tracks:


How Dare You
by Streaming Satellites and Sinnerman by Clara Luzia are two of the modern songs featured in the film.


I love how Sinnerman is played in the opening sequence as the protagonist Greider (Sam Riley) saunters into the secluded town in the Austrian Alps. It sets the tone of the film that this is a slow-burn revenge thriller, the action didn’t really start until about a half hour into the film. But I feel that this is the kind of films that rewards your patience.

Here’s the awesome intro of the mysterious lone ranger entering the small Austrian town on horseback. I could watch this scene over and over, it’s just so stunning!


The same song Sinnerman is played again at the end, but this time played by German band One Two Three Cheers And A Tiger.


How Dare You was played during one of the main shootouts in the snowy forest as the brutal, bloody scenes played out in slow motion.


This is one of the most beautifully-shot films I’ve seen in a while. It made me wish I had seen it on the big screen! Austrian filmmaker Andreas Prochaska, working with cinematographer Thomas W. Kiennast, certainly has that David Lean touch in capturing those amazing wide shots. Set in the Austrian Alps (though filming actually took place in the mountainous region of Val Senales, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy), every shot is good enough to frame.


This was the big winner at the German’s version of the Oscars (winning 8 LOLAs), but sadly no nomination for the excellent Sam Riley 😦 But no matter, he’s already a winner in my book. His strong, silent type antihero has that quiet menace. The fact that he’s not a physically ripped actor makes Greider more brain than brawn, relying on his keen instinct and intellect to go after the ruthless Brenner clan. The unpredictability of his character serves the revenge tale well, as we don’t know just how far he’d carry out his vengeance. So it’s still tense and suspenseful despite the plot being unnecessarily laid out for you in the form of voice over. Tobias Moretti is also excellent as the ringleader of the Brenner clan.

The Dark Valley (Das Finstere Tal) is a gem of a film that I wish more people would watch. Thank God for Netflix, I can rewatch this repeatedly and having seen it three times, I love it more every time.


Hope you enjoy the Music Break. I’d love to hear what you think of ‘The Dark Valley!’