Monothematicism and Fate in Dust Be My Destiny (1939)
Keywords:Max Steiner, monothematicism, fate, classic Hollywood
In the classic Hollywood style, monothematic film scores are rare. Perhaps the most well known of these is David Raksin’s score for Laura (1944). Max Steiner’s score for the 1939 Warner Bros. film Dust Be My Destiny similarly uses a single focal theme. However, in this case, it is not obsession that drives this compositional choice but fate. Steiner portrays this fight against fate through the recurrence and ongoing transformation of the material from the main theme, which he transforms throughout to portray various and dramatic situations. In all, Steiner presents seventy-one different variants of the theme in the film. As Joe begins to realize that he can shape his own destiny, the theme develops alongside him, up to the final transformation in the closing credits.
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