Posts Tagged ‘Red Dead Redemption’

(source: wikipedia.com)

Number 8

Django Unchained

Director: Quentin Tarentino

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Leonardo Dicaprio

Year: 2012

IMDB Rating: 8.5/10

This is the youngest film to appear in my top ten, and for those of you who read my disclaimer are probably thinking: “How on earth can a film this new have played a significant role in developing your character?” Unfortunately, there’s no short answer.

When I was a young kid my dad would often tell me about some of his favourite films, regardless of the age rating they came with. One film he would often tell me about was Pulp Fiction. Released in 1994, Pulp Fiction is a black comedy crime film that tells a non linear story featuring an ensemble cast. The film is known for its eclectic dialogue and highly stylised direction. My dad would often tell me the story of the accidental shooting of Marvin. Despite the gruesomeness of the anecdote I was always intrigued why my dad found it so funny. It wasn’t until I was much older when I watched the film that I finally understood why that particular scene always made my dad chuckle.This Tarantino fella had a way of turning violence into comedy.

(source: mentalfloss.com)

While Pulp Fiction wasn’t Tarantino’s first film, it is no doubt his most famous and influential movie. It was such a hit, that subsequent Tarantino movies are often judge against Pulp Fiction’s success. The film stayed with me, and I’ve re-watched it several times – once forcing Helen to watch it – and while I can appreciate its cultural significance, I never considered it one of my favourite films of all time.

(source: solidsmack.com)

Fast forward a decade to Kill Bill, a two part martial art film written and directed by Taratino and starring Uma Thurman. I fell in love with both films for many reasons, but what I liked the most was the Western themes that Tarantino littered throughout. Kill Bill isn’t Tarantino’s strongest work, but it is certainly memorable. I remember watching David Carradine walk those final five steps while Ennio Morricone’s Navajo Joe theme played on and thinking “Tarantino should make a cowboy film.”

(source: 4thletter.net)

Fast forward almost another decade and we come to my Number 8, Django Unchained. Inspired by Spaghetti Westerns, Django Unchained tells the story of an African-American slave who teams up with a German bounty hunter in order to rescue the former’s wife. The film doesn’t shy away from America’s past with slavery, and there are one or two scenes that are difficult to watch. It’s a fantastic journey, with the usual Tarantino tropes along the way. Like Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained is entertainingly irresponsible and ethically serious at the same time. Incidentally, two years before the film’s release, I played a videogame called Red Dead Redemption, which was a Western action-adventure. I fell in love with the game and then Django and Dr. Schultz came along and I immediately connected the game experience with the film.

(source: gamesradar.com)

Upon its release I joined my dad and sister in watching the Django Unchained at our local cinema. This was the first time I had actually got to watch a Tarantino film with my dad, which was a huge improvement from him telling an adolescent me about people getting shot in the face.

Trailer for Django Unchained:

Trailer for Red Dead Redemption:

Freedom by Andy Hamilton and Elayna Boynton (this song should have won the Oscar for Original Song, unfortunately that accolade went to Adele for her abysmal Skyfall song).

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The ninth annual G.A.N.G awards took place in San Francisco last week (March 3) with the Music of the Year award going to Red Dead Redemption – Yeehaw! The musical aces of the soundtrack, Bill Elm and Woody Jackson, were also recognised, winning the Rookie(s) of the Year category – something that I consider to be well and truely deserved.

However Red Dead Redemption didn’t stop there; the relentless game also scooped up three more awards: Audio of the Year, Best Interactive Score, and Best Dialogue.

By no means was it an easy judge either, because the Rockstar game was up against some brilliantly strong competition including Heavy Rain, which unfortunately won nothing, Halo: Reach, again nothing, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the other prominent winner that day (Best Sound Design, and Best Use of Multi-Channel Surround in a Game).

The Music of the Year award is a huge accolade in the games industry, so hopefully it will mean we may hear more from Billy and Woody in the future. However, the fact that Red Dead Redemption claimed four awards, and also the fact that it was nominated for six other categories is an outstanding feat and one that sustains Rockstar Games’ sharp eye – or rather ear – for detail in every department, obviously including music and sound.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was awarded for it's awesome sound design.


The gamut of talent was so strong last year, giving us a phenomenal selection of videogame music. It’s unfortunate that strong favourites of Now Loading didn’t win or get nominated – Heavy Rain and Mass Effect 2 respectively – but there’s no question regarding the sheer brilliance behind the Red Dead Redemption score. John Marston was the last cowboy standing after all.

G.A.N.G Awards

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Dante’s Inferno
God of War III
Heavy Rain
WINNER: Red Dead Redemption

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Bioshock 2
Dante’s Inferno
Heavy Rain
James Bond 007: Blood Stone
WINNER: Red Dead Redemption

WINNER: Halo: Waypoint “The Return”

WINNER: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Bioshock 2
Dante’s Inferno
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
God of War III
Red Dead Redemption

Bioshock 2
Dante’s Inferno
Halo: Reach
Mass Effect 2
Red Dead Redemption
WINNER: Video Games Live – Level 2

Dante’s Inferno
God of War III
Halo: Reach
Heavy Rain
James Bond 007: Blood Stone
WINNER: Red Dead Redemption

God of War: Ghost of Sparta
WINNER: Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge
Monster Hunter Portable 3
Ni no Kuni: Shikkoku no Madoshi
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
God of War III
Medal of Honor
Red Dead Redemption
WINNER: StarCraft II
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Bioshock 2
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
God of War III
Mafia II
Medal of Honor
WINNER: Red Dead Redemption

WINNER: “Athens Harbour Chase” – James Bond 007: Blood Stone
“Ethan Mars Theme” – Heavy Rain
“Main Theme” – Red Dead Redemption
“Northern Grasslands” – Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer
“The Palace Gates” – Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Wii)

“Alice’s Theme” – Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland
“Dante’s Theme” – Dante’s Inferno
“Hymn” – Halo: Reach
WINNER: “Invincible” – World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
“Overture” – God of War III
“Redemption” – Dante’s Inferno


“Dagomba” – Just Dance 2
“Dead Man’s Gun” – Red Dead Redemption
“Far Away” – Red Dead Redemption
WINNER: “I’ll Take It All” – James Bond 007: Blood Stone
“No Death In Love” – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
“The Peri” (Zahara’s Theme) – Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands

WINNER: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Call of Duty: Black-Ops
Crackdown 2
Fable III
Halo: Reach
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
Transformers: War for Cybertron

WINNER: Bioshock 2
Civilization V
DJ Hero 2
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
Mafia II
Rock Band 3

APM Film & Television Music Podcast
“Composing the Music of Star Wars: The Old Republic”
“From the Shadows of Film Sound: Cinematic Production & Creative Process in Video Game Audio”
“Recording Firearms Explosions”
WINNER: “The Weight of Silence – How Silence Can Indicate a Character’s Importance”

G.A.N.G Recongition Award
WINNER: Sumthing Else Musicworks

G.A.N.G. Distinguished Service Award
WINNER: Dren McDonald, Jacquie Shriver

Rookie of the Year Award
WINNER: Woody Jackson, Bill Elm

Lifetime Achievement Award

WINNER: Chris Huelsbeck

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Composer: Bill Elm and Woody Jackson

Release: May 2010

Length: 18 Tracks

Label: Rockstar Games

There are a lot of things we know that can instantly identify the old American West. Quintessential symbols of that time, like Cowboys and Native Americans, are renowned – yet sometimes greatly misinterpreted – in popular culture. Films, books, and even videogames have been using the Western concept for years, sourcing archaic texts and quoting legend. This year, critically acclaimed developer Rockstar unleashed Red Dead Redemption, a sequel to a much underrated game. Redemption is one of the most atmospheric games available, fully immersing the player into the final days of the Old West. Though the visuals and genuinely believable characters are a strong part of the game’s success, the original score also plays a significant role in telling the story of protagonist John Marston.

Composed by Bill Elm, member of instrumental rock group Friends of Dean Martinez, along with his former band mate, Woody Jackson, Red Dead Redemption’s soundtrack is dynamic and well thought out. Opening with the melancholic piece “Born Unto Trouble”, a composition led by a perfect partnership of country fiddle and whistling, you’ll instantly see yourself in a pair of spurred boots, riding your trusty stead majestically towards the horizon. The attention to detail in the music is on par with the game’s environment and characters, proving that Rockstar only aim for the best.

Elm and Jackson rather ingeniously decided to record all the music to the same tempo – 130 beats per minute if you must know – meaning that all tracks would brilliantly transit into each other. In game it works well, for instance you could be hunting coyotes out in the wilderness, the music creeping up on you every now and again. Suddenly you’re ambushed by bandits, and the music becomes more dramatic, however the transition was unnoticeable because of the tempo remaining the same. Whereas other games would have slaughtered your ears with sudden changes in tracks, this score makes the transiton feel more natural and immersive.

After leaving the ranches of New Austin behind we move onto Mexico, where the whistling, fiddles, and discordant piano are replaced for rudimentary  percussion instruments, a cello, and, of course, a good old Spanish brass section – the composer partnership again adding to the game’s atmosphere.

Aside from all the original compositions, the soundtrack also features the four licensed songs used during the game’s most dramatic moments. “Far Away” by Jose Gonzalez is the well-suited piece played after Marston takes his first steps across the border and into Mexico. There’s also “Compass” by Jamie Lidell, the track played while our hero races home to see his wife and son, never before has a licensed song captured so much emotion in a videogame.

The credit track “Deadman’s Gun” by Ashtar Command is a great song to end with, having the same upsetting effect as Starsailor’s “Way to Fall” as used in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

Bill Elm and Woody Jackson have really opened this writer’s eyes and ears to new ways that videogame music can be written. Greatly inspired by the work of Spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone, Red Dead Redemption’s score remains as one of the most genius pieces of videogame music released this year.

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