Not too long after the last Dire Straits studio album, Mark Knopfler compiled a collection of some of the film music work he’d done, focusing on four films, the soundtracks for which were all still in print. Screenplaying is arranged for feel more than history, making it a nice listen indeed.
Beginning with five tracks from 1984’s Cal, the mood is set with a distinctly Irish influence, with Uillean pipes and tin whistle accompanying Knopfler’s guitar and quiet accompaniment from some Dire Straits regulars. “Irish Boy” and “The Long Road” in particular provide a welcome contrast to the boomy sound of Brothers In Arms.
While Knopfler is credited as its composer, the entire soundtrack for 1989’s Last Exit To Brooklyn was performed solely by keyboard player Guy Fletcher, who joined the band in 1984 and has worked with Knopfler ever since. Here the harsh imagery of the film is illustrated by more pastoral if mournful passages.
“Pastoral” is a good word for the music from 1987’s The Princess Bride, arguably the music most recognizable to the average consumer. Five excerpts from the film evoke the adventure of the plot, with a few variations on the one song from the film, “Storybook Love”, which is not included in its vocal incarnation.
Overseas, however, it was his 1983 score for the Scottish film Local Hero that put him on the path to film composing. Some of its more Adult Contemporary cuts are included—namely “Boomtown” and anything featuring Mike Brecker’s saxophone—but thankfully the program ends with “Going Home”, which also closed Alchemy, as it did many Dire Straits concerts over the years.
In a few years’ time Mark Knopfler would release his first real solo album. He’s put out a handful of song-based albums since the turn of the century, alongside the occasional soundtrack work, so it doesn’t look like Dire Straits will return anytime soon. In the ears of consumers, he quit the band while he was ahead. So in many ways, Screenplaying serves as an epilogue to the Dire Straits story—a footnote, perhaps, but another perspective on what he was doing when the band was at its biggest.
Mark Knopfler Screenplaying (1993)—3½