Murder in the First | Christopher Young
Director Marc Rocco’s 1995 period prison drama stars Kevin Bacon as a petty criminal pushed to the brink by an abusive penal system and Christian Slater as the idealistic young public defender who, against all odds, elects to defend his client by putting the penal system itself on trial.
In passionate contrast to his widely respected work in the horror genre, American composer Christopher Young imbues Rocco’s otherwise small film with a grandiose, bracingly heartfelt orchestral conscience that speaks to the enormity of the story’s emotions without ignoring the intimacy of its setting. With the exception of period incidental tracks like Movietone News and Suitcase Sally, it’s a deeply reverential score defined by tracks like Solitary Confinement, A Constant Spirit and Henry Young in which a chorus of strings (sometimes enjoined by an actual chorus) express the sorrow, joy, exuberance, disappointment and courage of righteousness buffeted by the waves and winds of bureaucracy and political corruption. Even when the characters are at their lowest and most hopeless, Young’s music soars with hope.