"... Although it may seem somewhat contradictory to say it, The Jackal is a departure for Carter Burwell, but which still somehow sounds like all his other scores. The stylistics are there, and the familiar instrumentations are still in place, but he uses them in a new and refreshing manner that is highly pleasing to the ear and - more importantly - fits the film. Fans of Burwell's earlier works will undoubtedly get a kick out of hearing how Carter has managed to work his musical round pegs into the Hollywood square hole, while those new to his scores will undoubtedly be pleasantly surprised." - Jonathan Broxton, Movie Music UK, 2000.
"... The film's sporadic attempts to be stylistically
edgy -- the jagged Seven-ish opening credits, the spurts of aggressively
metallic music -- come off as affected" - Todd McCarthy, Variety,
November 7, 1997.
Michael Caton-Jones and I had made three films
together at this point (Doc
Hollywood, This Boy's
Life, Rob Roy),
so it was a forgone conclusion that I would work on "The Jackal",
although I didn't care for the script at all. It was a remake of
an extraordinary film ("Day
of the Jackal"),
and what was the point of that?
I watched Michael go through a process familiar
to most directors - he worked for some years to get a more unusual,
even "arty" film going, but when he couldn't he settled
for a well-paid job: "The Jackal". As I recall there
wasn't even a satisfactory ending to the script when they started
shooting. The contract with the actors union was expiring and the
fear of a strike was sending a lot of questionable films, which
otherwise would have gone through months more development, into
So I think it's fair to say that the production
had problems from the start. And once it was shot, with all its
exotic locations and cool weapons and such, there was still a pacing
issue that was hard to lick. The original version of the film is
very much in the tradition of a film about process - there's not
much dialog, you mostly watch people, in this case an assassin
and a detective, performing their craft with diligence. But in
this version a lot of this process is slow and turgid. The one
part of the film that had the requisite pace and inventiveness
was the opening credits, which was created by the English group
Tomato to a track by Massice Attack.
Jim Clark cut the film down as best he could, but
there's only so much an editor can do. I tried to inject some pace
into the music, but when the music pushed faster it only made the
film feel slower. In the end I felt I could more successfully score
the "scale" of the conspiracy rather than its clockwork
machinery, which seemed to be immune to any speeding up.
After the score was complete Michael came under
great pressure from the studio to make the film "faster-paced",
an understandable desire for an international espionage thriller.
They may have shot some more footage, but after
months of editing there was little left to mess with than the music.
He ended up bringing on a record producer names Danny Saber to "remix" my
score. Michael politely asked if I wanted to be included in this
process, but my one day of sitting in on Danny's
sessions was too dispiriting to repeat. He was overdubbing electric
guitar power chords over David Torn's much more interesting guitar
work. In the end all I could do was listen to Danny's results
and list a few pieces that I thought were frankly embarassing in
that hope that Michael would not use them. In the end they were
all in the film. (The original recordings are available in the Audio section of this page).
I considered taking my name off the film, but felt
there was just enough of my music there to justify keeping it as
it was. But this painful experience was the end (at least so far)
of my ongoing collaboration with Michael Caton-Jones.
Directed by Michael Caton-Jones
Written by Chuck Pfarrer
Produced by Michael Caton-Jones, Sean Daniel, James Jacks
Composed and Conducted by Carter Burwell
Orchestrated by Sonny Kompanek
Music Editor: Todd Kasow, Angie Rubin
Contractor: Sandy DeCrescent
Music Scoring Mixer: Mike Farrow
Recorded and mixed at Todd AO, Los Angeles
Starring Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Sidney Poitier,
Diane Venora, Jack Black
Released November, 1997
the DVD from Amazon
This score was never released on CD. For demo
purposes here are some examples. Click on mp3 for an excerpt, or the Flash triangle to stream the entire piece.