of the Mighty River
by Christopher Coleman
With the immense and
spectacular format of any IMAX movie comes the need for sound and music of
equal depth and power. This is a tall order for any composer.
Alan Williams was certainly up to the challenge when he put pen to paper
for the IMAX exclusive entitled Amazon.
This Academy Award
nominated film chronicles the chance meeting of an American scientist, in
search of a cure for cure for disease, and a Indian shaman who is on a
similar quest. The unforgettable setting for these intersecting
paths is the Amazon basin; home to the towering Andes, encompassing
rainforests and the mighty Amazon river.
Alan Williams takes a not
too surprising route of employing various indigenous percussions and and
wind instruments in creating a very distinct cultural atmosphere. At
the same time, Williams beautifully layers in cotton-soft strings that
help to underscore the poignancy of the land and its peoples.
Track 7, Underwater, will
sound very familiar to James Horner fans as it is strangely close to For
the Love of a Princess from the Braveheart score. In a
backward way, it is nice to hear someone other than Mr. Horner, himself,
"borrowing" on his theme-creating talent. In any event, it
is a short track, but enjoyable.
Not only does Alan
Williams create an attractive voice for the Amazon river and the life that
teams around and within her, but also is able to kick the score into
high-gear with heart pounding rhythms and brass fanfares. Not at all
unlike Trevor Jones technique demonstrated in Last of the Mohicans.
If I dare make one more comparison, elements of another classic
score are politely put into the musical mix. The Zoe, track
11, and Journey's End, track 16, with their choral elements are a close
cousin to Ennio Morricone's The Mission. Still, this track is
beautiful in its own right.
Of all the captivating
themes contained on this CD, the most memorable theme is the Challawayan
shaman, Mamani's theme. It is this theme that will keep the disc
spinning in your player over and over again. Mamani's theme is heard
early and often throughout this score and each time it shows itself it is
a delight. It may have gone on to inspire Mark Mancina for his
equally engaging theme for Return to Paradise.
Aside from Mamani's theme,
Williams really demonstrates his unique abilities in tracks such as The
Dart of Death and The Village.
With a towering five-story
screen, a speaker system that defines the term "surround
sound," and majestic images of the untamed land of the Amazon
basin, Alan Williams had a monumental challenge before him.
With such a task before him, he can hardly be faulted for garnering a
little support from some of Hollywood's best composers while en route to
creating his own songs for one of the mightiest rivers in the world.