With a provocative period-piece like Tanya Wexler‘s Hysteria, starring Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal, overcoming the sensations of “hot and bothered” may be easier said than done.
Luckily, the film’s fanciful score, written and composed by Gast Waltzing and Christian Henson, helps to bring down the heat a few degrees.
Set in the backdrop of late-Victorian era England, Hysteria follows Dancy as Mortimer Granville, a good doctor searching merely for steady work. When he answers a call to practice with a leading doctor in Women’s medicine, he learns that fame and divided desires quickly follow after a few mechanical strokes of genius — Granville, after all, invented the first electro-mechanical vibrator.
Composed with traditional sensibilities, the score acts as a sort of aural set-piece in a world stifled only by its sense of adventure and imagination. Full of upbeat charm and sophisticated eloquence, the airy score maintains both themes of joviality and uncomfortable exploration as the characters move toward their own physical and emotional discoveries.
When introducing characters, the themes are as willfully naive and ignorantly polite as the people they represent. As the plot thickens, along with every Englishwoman’s blood from Granville’s treatments, notes of confusion, insecurity and doubt are added to give further depth to the device’s impending societal changes.
Like the film, Waltzing and Henson’s music endeavors to break Hysteria’s characters free from their inhibitions through the pleasure of fulfillment. It expresses the deep need for human contact when traditional values threaten to prevent us from the exhilaration of our lover’s touch, and even our own.
Evocative and thoughtful, Waltzing and Henson’s work on this soundtrack adds sincerity to a comedic examination of the female orgasm — or rather, the birth of the device that branded it.
Full Track List:
2. Granville at the First Hospital
3. Bloosy Dinosaur
4. Granville Looks For Work
5. Rigid Thrombus
6. Slowly, in a Circular Motion
8. Granville meets Charlotte
9. Emily and Granville in the Corridor
10. Introducing the Settlement House
11. Suit Yourself
12. Orgasmic Endeavors
14. Proposing to Emily
15. A House Call
16. I Could Use the Help of an Able Doctor
18. That’s The Spot!
19. Molly’s Delight
20. First Patient
21. Charlotte Arrives At the Party
22. The Aftermath – Charlotte in Prison
23. Charlotte to Court
24. Hysteria Is a Fiction
25. Granville Proposes To Charlotte
26. Ducks Reprise