December 20th, 2016 / 0 comments


It is that time of year where people are compelled to publish their  “Best of” lists for 2016.  I posted in our Week in Review on Sunday that Barfly gave the soundtrack an honourable mention and Citizen Film included it in his list for “striking score and breakaway finale knocked me out.”  Today though, quite a few others came about so I thought I might do a compilation of the lists.  I will add to them as we close off 2016:

The Film Stage – Best Directorial Debut

The Childhood of a Leader – Brady Corbet

Scale — in terms of both narrative scope and ambition — can be forgivably small in a directors first feature. When ambitions and ideas get too big, the result can often times become unwieldy. Yet Brady Corbet, in his directorial debut The Childhood of a Leader, manages to take both grand thematic ideas and cold aesthetic choices and balance them perfectly. The result is a European influenced character piece that is both engrossing and horrifying, evoking Haneke without adopting his voice. Not an easy movie, and not a perfect film, it nonetheless announces Corbet as an aesthetic and cerebral storyteller to keep an eye on. – Brian R.

Indiewire (David Ehrlich) – The 10 Best Movie Scores

4.  The Childhood of a Leader

“The Childhood of a Leader” might be set in 1918, but it sure sounds a lot like 2016. Written by art pop god Scott Walker (as opposed to embattled Wisconsin governor Scott Walker), the score for Brady Corbet’s directorial debut begins with 17 seconds of an orchestra tuning up, as if warning you to brace for what’s to come. And when the first strains of Scott Walker’s panicky accompaniment slice into the soundtrack like Penderecki having a heart attack, the strings cutting into archival footage of World War I troops marching in deadly formation, you’ll be glad for the warning.

The year’s most unnerving coming-of-age film, Corbet’s first feature is a troubled look inside the formative experiences of a young boy with a dark future. But rather than paint a reductive portrait in which every adult psychosis can be clearly traced back to a childhood trauma, the director relies on Walker’s score to articulate the rage that foments inside his pint-sized protagonist. The music charges around with authoritarian confidence: In one piece, a violent insurgency of strings crashes into a war balustrade of trumpets. In another, the ratatat of a printing press assumes a militaristic beat you can dance to. Every brief respite that Walker writes into this sonic nightmare is meant to lull us listeners into a false sense of safety, meant to make us relax so that we can feel when the hairs on the back of our neck go stiff again.

Highlight Track: “Opening”

Indiewire also included The Childhood of a Leader theatrical poster in their “Best of 2016” list, which we posted about here.

The Telegraph (UK) – Robbie Collins Top 20 Films of 2016

18 The Childhood of a Leader

Director: Brady Corbet
This alternative history of American fascism, from the young actor-turned-director Brady Corbet, was spellbinding even before world affairs caught up with it. Watched now, it’s a work of poison-tipped urgency, and a quintessential 2016 film. From the ashes of the First World War emerges Prescott (Tom Sweet), a German-American child of privilege who learns how to feed on the uncertainty and unease around him to bend an entire household – and eventually nation – to his will. Scott Walker’s churning, Wagnerian score is among the year’s best. Read the original review

A Closer Listen – This Year’s Best Film Scores

Scott Walker ~ The Childhood of a Leader (4AD)
It’s easy to score a suspense thriller, but it’s hard to score a suspense thriller well.  Walker holds back until key moments, where he lets it all loose.  The album is a great example of a composer leaving his comfort zone and finding new life.  It may be Scott Walker’s most accessible, but that doesn’t make it mainstream; the work is challenging on all the best levels.  In his own way, the protagonist is as scary as Halloween‘s Michael; John Carpenter would be proud.  Read our original review here.

Curzon – Top 10 Films of 2016

Anders, Curzon Richmond: 4.  The Childhood of a Leader

Lydia, Curzon Head Office: THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER It’s Scott Walker’s genre-bending score that makes this film. Screening notes, plus intensive Hannah Arendt and JP Sartre-reading recommended prior to watching this.

Hannah D, Curzon Home Cinema:  6. THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER, Thrilling watch with a brilliant score by Scott Walker. Loved the wee demon-child Prescott – he stole the film from the adult cast.

Simon, Curzon Mayfair:  THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER — Brady Corbet’s directorial debut, written with Mona Fastvold, brings to mind the detached, austerity of the films of Michael Haneke, who directed Corbet in the US version of Funny Games. Tom Sweet gives a precociously formidable performance in the eponymous role—a stark counterpoint to Tremblay’s naive wonder in Room. Scott Walker’s ominous, frenzied string-heavy score is one of the best of the year, perfectly encapsulating both the inexorable, nascent evil of the young boy and the mechanical, fascistic dystopia that is foreshadowed. Corbet is certainly a director to keep an eye on.

Filter Mexico – Best Soundtracks of 2016

3.  Scott Walker - The Childhood of a Leader 

It is very common to have new music of  Scott Walker , but once it appears it is time to prepare ourselves to hear brutal, oppressive and captivating sounds. The Childhood Of A Leader marks the return of one of the most ambitious musicians throughout history, and one that also left completely shocked to himself David Bowie .

Brady Corbet is the director behind this tape which also is debuting officially in the seventh art, starting a result of what happened after World War I , so have had to Scott Walker in the musical tells that is making its way to big, not to mention has a cast consisting of  Robert Pattinson (yes, the dude Twilight) and Bérénice Bejo.

The Citizen

3. The Childhood of a Leader

For sheer blunt impact you really can’t go past The Childhood of a Leader, a film whose striking score and breakaway finale knocked me out.

Loosely based on a Jean-Paul Sartre short story, twentysomething director Brady Corbet’s debut feature film is mostly set in one house, following the childhood of a tantrum-prone kid who grows up to be a Fascist leader.

For the film’s finale, Corbet stylistically departs from the bulk of the film for a terrifying epilogue set at a political rally decades after the movie’s previous events.

Most disturbingly, given the current political climate, The Childhood of a Leader ascribes a sense of inevitability to the events it depicts. Resistance is futile: this particular collision of history, politics and one man’s damaged psychology is unstoppable.


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