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


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!’

18 thoughts on “Music Break + Cinematography Appreciation: The Dark Valley (2014)

  1. You know the only song I remember from the movie was Sinnerman, it’s pretty good but not as good as this original remix version by Felix da Housecat and Nina Simone:

    It’s kind of funny that they chose that song since it’s about a runaway slave back in the 1800s.

    You know if you really like this movie, may I suggest two of Eastwood’s westerns: High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider; the plot of Dark Valley’s basically the same as those two films. A lone stranger comes to town and help the local people by getting rid of the town’s bullies. Also, Peckipah’s The Wild Bunch, I know you’re not a fan of him but pretty much the style of Dark Valley’s were burrowed directly from that film, including the slow-mo shootout near the end of the film. But I assume you really like this movie because of Sam Riley. 🙂

    1. Oh I didn’t know ‘Sinnerman’ was a remix, I really like that song. I guess the slavery theme kinda works as the town was held as ‘slaves’ by the Brenner clan.

      Oh I do want to see more of Clint’s westerns, I mean it’s talked about so much in the reviews of Dark Valley, esp those two movies you mentioned. I think the story is tailored more for European audience here, though the vengeance theme is of course similar.

      Yes absolutely, Sam made any film better to me. Heck he even made the slow vampire drama by Neil Jordan called Byzantium extremely watchable 😀

        1. Oh wow, that’s cool! Yes do bring those when we meet. Btw, it’s ‘borrow’ not ‘burrow’ he..he.. sorry I’m a stickler for spelling, I’m such a nerd that way 😛

    1. I wouldn’t have either, esp after you see him in Control. But he truly is versatile and looks quite menacing as the taciturn Texas cowboy!

    1. Hey Jay! This is a GREAT flick to watch at any time, but I reckon after a long hard day at work might make an even bigger impact. I really hope you’d give this a shot!

  2. Sam Riley looks convincing. I agree with the scene you featured–stunning. I appreciate more and more the slower, methodic cinematography showcasing the grandeur of nature.

    1. So you’ve seen this?? If so, wahoo!!!! Yes Sam is very convincing indeed. He said in interviews he’s glad he didn’t have many lines here given his lack of German, ahah, but hey it worked well for the character to be so taciturn. Yes, the grandeur of nature here is stunning indeed, the Alps is like a character itself. Revenge is a dish best served cold… doesn’t get any coder than winter in the Alps!

  3. Argh I still gotta get around to this Ruth! There are a few I need to get around to that you’ve recommended actually.

    I noticed that Love and Friendship hit the internet. I am torn… I prefer to watch stuff through legal channels obviously, but on the other hand, we have to wait months for this to even hit a cinema screen. Seems crazy that it can be on the internet over a month before coming here

    1. Hey Jordan, I reckon you would enjoy this one more than Love n Friendship, well knowing your taste anyway. Did you listen to some of the songs? I really like the use of modern songs from German bands contrasted with scenes set in the 1900s.

        1. Cool! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did Jordan. As far as wanting to watch stuff through legal means, I totally understand. I’m the same way. Even when there are free downloads elsewhere, I usually would rather pay to get my movies. But yeah it is frustrating when you have to wait SO long for certain movies to arrive. I used to live in Indonesia where things are delayed MONTHS after its release in the US :\

    1. Hello there, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you called this a masterpiece. It certainly is! It took me a while to warm up to the music/songs overall, but on subsequent viewings I actually love it.

  4. Pingback: FlixChatter Review: Das Finstere Tal (The Dark Valley, 2014)

  5. Pingback: Belated Birthday Tribute to Sam Riley

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