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The Legend of Bagger Vance (Soundtrack) by Rachel Portman

Seldom A Bogie
Review by Christopher Coleman

The Legend of Bagger Vance (Soundtrack) by Rachel PortmanComposed by Rachel Portman
Released by Chapter III Records  November 3, 2000

The Legend of Bagger Vance

The Legend of Bagger Vance (Soundtrack) by Rachel Portman


Originality 8
Music Selection 8
Composition 8
CD Length 7
Track Order 7
Performance 9
Final Score 8/10

1999 found composer Rachel Portman being considered for an Oscar for yet another one of her patented beauties for The Cider House Rules.  One year later, she is up to her old tricks again providing two Oscar worthy compositions:  The Legend of Bagger Vance and Chocolat.  Being the first woman to win an Academy Award for best dramatic score has apparently not satisfied Rachel Portman.  While continuing in heartfelt, tender style of film music, she continues to excel with each successive composition, with seldom a bogie among them.  

The Legend of Bagger Vance tells the story of a fictional golf match set in the 1930's between Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, and Rannulph Junah (Matt Damon).  Junuh, a war hero, makes his return to golf after a lengthy absence and is aided by a mysterious caddy, Bagger Vance, played by Will Smith.  This is a film that actually could prove to be each actor's best movie in some time.  To help tell the mystical tale, director Robert Redford did well in selecting  Rachel Portman.  With scores such as The Joy Luck Club, Emma, and the previously mentioned Cider House Rules, there could be little doubt she had the ability to craft a full orchestral score that would emotionally attach the audience to the film.  

The main themes composed by Portman radiate the kind of brilliance film music fans have come to expect from her and are quite memorable.  They are used quite often throughout the course of the soundtrack and the only knock against the CD is that these themes become just the slightest bit tiresome. That being said, these themes may still become some of Portman's most beloved. 

Despite the degree of repetition, there are a number of moments that distinguish themselves. One such moments comes at the conclusion of track 3, Savannah Needs a Hero , where a truly beautiful Celtic influence is introduced.  It is short-lived and not repeated within this soundtrack, but is still very impressive.

Along with the pieces composed by Portman are a handful of period pieces from the 1930's which, while slightly distracting, they help add a healthy dose of lightheartedness to the overall expression of the CD.  The jazz and big band talents of Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and even Muggsy Spanier, in all their monophonic glory, are heard in three tracks: the first, the last and one slipped in the midst of Portman's luscious compositions.  

Those impressed with the expansive yet contemplative Americana style of a Thomas Newman (Horse Whisperer) or Basil Poledouris (For Love of the Game, Lonesome Dove), will likely find a great deal to appreciate about this score.   As acclaimed as her work for The Cider House Rules was in 1999, Rachel Portman's score for The Legend of Bagger Vance eclipses even that score.   Now, with another fine release, Chocolat, to go along side The Legend of Bagger Vance, Portman should be a shoe-in for at least one more Oscar nomination for the year 2000.  Rachel Portman fans will certainly want to make a double investment in her distinctive works for 2000.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track  Title  Time



My Best Wishes - Fats Waller


2 The Legend of Bagger Vance 2:11  *****
3 Savannah Needs a Hero 4:53  ***
4 Bagger Offers to Caddy for Junuh 4:07  ****
5 Bagger & Hardy Measure the Course at Night 2:32  **
6 The Day of the Match Dawns 3:07  ***
7 Birdie 1:46  ***
8 Junuh Sees the Field 5:11  ****
9 Hole in One 2:30  ***
10 Junuh Comes OUt of the Woods 3:55  **
11 Bagger Leaves 3:12  ****
12 Old Hardy Joins Bagger by the Sea 5:50  *****
13 Bluin The Blues - Muggsy Spanier 2:27  ***
14 Mood Indigo - Duke Ellington 3:07  ***

Total Running Time


* dialogue |     Sound Clip Real Audio Clip

Referenced Reviews:  
The Cider House Rules | Chocolat


Quick Quotes

Rachel Portman's compositional style is immediately recognisable, and with the exception of the musically challenging Beloved, has remained constant throughout her career. Light, buoyant woodwind melodies, gentle strings in soothing counterpoint, rhapsodic pianos, and an overall air of heartfelt whimsy have characterised the vast majority of her scores to date; true to form, The Legend of Bagger Vance does not rock the boat. ****

Jonathan Broxton - Movie Music U.K.

Composer Rachel Portman

Rachel Portman





All artwork from The Legend of Bagger Vance is exclusive property of Chapter III Records (c) 2000.  Its appearance is for informational purposes only.
Review format version 4.5