In 1987, composing soundtracks was also a way for Mark Knopfler to put Dire Straits on the shadow, since his wife was pregnant and the Dire Straits album “Brothers In Arms” were sold in more than 3 million copies in the UK (unparalleled numbers at the time), Mark wanted to be at home rather than on a tour.
So he accepted the songwriting proposition for “The Promised Princess” an adventure/fantasy film directed by Rob Reiner. Above all, it was a different project from the previous ones, mixing medieval sounds with romanticism away from the aggressiveness of “Cal” from 1984.
Knopfler commented on this work to Q magazine: “Although it is a kind of folk-blues musician at heart, I have reached a point where I can expand in other directions as in “The Promised Princess”. I would really like to elaborate this with a great orchestra to see how it would sound. These are the things that widen our horizons. The role of producer does not interest me much. It is hard work.”
The song turned out to have no major impact here, although the film still be a favorite of many connoisseurs of this type of works.
Knopfler then made a 180-degree turn, signing the soundtrack of “The Last Exit to Brooklyn” in 1989, based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr. In the 60’s the book spawned controversy and went to court in the UK due to components of violence, homosexuality and prostitution in rude portrait of New York City underworld.
From music to many different scenes of this film, Mark proves its effectiveness and talent. Heard aside, it has some boring themes but that accompanied by the images, work perfectly. Many Mark Knopfler fans do not like this aspect, but the goal is this.
The composer described the process like: “Composing soundtracks is different from composing songs, because songs are songs, they have lyrics. In the case of a movie, the lyrics of the song in fact is the movie. So we are supporting someone else and we are just part of the overall picture. Sometimes it’s a very difficult task.”
Mark Knopfler also said that sometimes working for others is like a different role. And that is good, because if we only pleasing ourselves all the time with our expressiveness the band can become a self-oriented. When you work for others, and you must give the best from you.
He also added that he enjoyed at all, during the process of creating soundtracks for the movies: “I feel comfortable while I working on my songs along with my band. I have more time in perfecting the songs, while for movies, time presses me on one side, so I can not deal with it for a long time. But the profit from all that is great.”
In 1993, during a period of inactivity the compilation Screenplaying was released gathering the best themes from “Local Hero”, “Cal”, “The Princess Bride” and “Last Exit to Brooklyn”.
In 1998 after the solo debut with Golden Heart, Knopfler released a short album “Wat the Dog” directed by Barry Levinson, for the same named movie starring with Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Anne Heche, Denis Leary and William H. Macy.
This short album by Mark Knopfler is one of the best examples of his cinematographic work. All the tracks are interesting and some even intriguing. Track is sung by Mark, and the instrumentalists demonstrate their virtuosity.
In 1999, Metroland was released which includes tracks from other artists such as Françoise Hardy, Roger Samyn, Django Reinhardt, The Strangers, Russ Ballard and Elvis Costello.
The fact that Knopfler composed one part of the album, once again showed the traits of his brilliance. The original theme comes in two versions, one of them sung Mark. Along with the other tracks and in an extraordinary way, the atmosphere of the film, in addition, the work of Philip Saville, starring Christian Bale and Emily Watson, based on the novel by Julian Barnes, is worth seeing, regardless of the soundtrack. Over the years, love and marriage are approached with intelligence, bitterness, but also some humor and compassion.
And in the end it is a drama in the sports world, starring with Robert Duvall and Michael Keaton, “A Shot at Glory” released in 2002 where the influences of his native Scotland are revived. The album is eclectic and features more songs sung by Mark, appealing to a wider audience.
Although it is a way of “dreaming the dreams of others”, this sequence of works demonstrates a progression by Knopfler, an insistence on the diversification of the musical color that applies.