Column: Slicing Score: Troll (1986)


Troll (1986). Composer: Richard Band.


“What is the difference between trolls and men?”

Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his film has a look to it that’s like something like Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Troll tells a menacing, impish modern fairy tale. It’s a film with an equally impish and fanciful soundtrack. I can imagine the fae of artist Brian Froud’s book, Faeries, listening to this soundtrack because Troll‘s soundtrack has whimsical and demonic music that suits a plethora of mischievous moods. It’s music that conjures trolls of every age and context, including Internet trolls, co-worker trolls, familial trolls and the nastily amorous trolls of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt.

This soundtrack is divided into five sections dubbed “Cantos.”

Cantos I: A slow prologue performed by cellos create the foundation for the eerie fantasy music that follows. There is some furtive accentuation of chanting and eerie musical phrases to smash together auditory perceptions of the “real” and “fantastical” worlds of this film.

Cantos II: If anyone has ever wondered what a winding tunnel could “sound” like, it would probably sound like some of the spiraling passages in this cue.

Cantos Profanae: The title and mood of this cue are an intriguing hybridization of what is sacred with what is profane. Most of the song lyrics are semi-gibberish. Semi-gibberish was used to evoke the sound of troll language in the “Troll Chanting” section of Anselm Hollo’s translation of the Finnish poem The Kalevala, so this aspect of “Cantos Profanae”‘s lyrical construction has an interesting cultural precedent. “Troll Chanting” can be read in a poetry anthology edited by Myra Cohn Livingston entitled Why am I Grown so Cold?.

Cantos IV: Some good cues don’t have to rely on overemphatic emotion to be effective. Gothic music constructs atmosphere more than emotion.

Cantos V: The final 30 seconds of this cue are a highlight. It is beautiful as the music sheds all of its earlier menace and shapes the tranquil finale that ends this eerie soundtrack.


Troll‘s soundtrack is available at: “Cantos Profanae” is available as an MP3 download at: