24. Requiem for a Dream
score by Clint Mansell
Even if you’ve never seen Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream there’s a good chance you’ve heard part of Clint Mansell’s iconic score. For a couple years there in the early-‘aughts, the title theme “Lux Aeterna” was everywhere: videogame commercials, action movie trailers (most notably for The Lord of the Rings: Two Motherfuckin’ Towers), as an omnipresent novelty ringtone sung by UK pop sensation Crazy Frog, etc. Typically, these secondary appropriations used a turbocharged, full-orchestra version of “Lux,” but the original Requiem version is still best. Over a ragged mid-tempo techno beat, the great Kronos Quartet wrings every last bit of psychodrama out of their 16 collective strings—the rich, deep, resonance of their wooden instruments spotlighting the empty space around the margins of Mansell’s composition. The effect is one of doomed loneliness; a pre-credits warning that the film’s four junkie protagonists are headed nowhere good. Elsewhere, Mansell and the Kronos Kidz stab, soar, and float, creating moments of tension, romance, beauty, hope, and horror. It’s a diverse range of moods and emotions, but it’s all aesthetically consistent. Put this on your headphones, and life instantly becomes more dramatic. Addictive.