Elia Kazan’s film East of Eden offers a unique reading of the most salient themes from John Steinbeck’s novel. The audiovisual text, and its communicative force, are defined to no small degree by the music written by Leonard Rosenman, who interacted with the director after having agreed with him on the dramaturgical layout. A study of the sources conserved in the Kazan and Rosenman archives allows the crucial moments of this collaboration to be reconstructed, and provides further indicators for comprehending the audiovisual structures. Rosenman composed a series of separate pieces, each reflecting the emotional and dramatic content of the episode in which the music has to appear, producing reciprocal relations between music and drama. The sonorous components are activated and reconfigured in line with the drama’s evolution, using techniques whose origins lie in Alban Berg’s operas. The music plays an active role during crucial moments of the plot, specifies the emotional states of the film’s characters, creates long-term relations, allows conflicts to emerge and, above all, displays great refinement in the way it articulates the dialectics between good and evil that lies at the foundation of the novel and the film.
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