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Colette by Atli Örvarsson


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Colette (Soundtrack) by Atli Örvarsson











Colette (Soundtrack) by Atli Örvarsson

Composed by Atli Örvarsson
MovieScore Media (2013)

Rating: 7/10

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It’s reasonably effective – if not immensely engaging – stuff.

Örvarsson's Emerging Voice
Review by Edmund Meinerts

A love story set against the horrific backdrop of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, the Czech film COLETTE would seem to be the last place you’d expect to find a composer bred from HANS ZIMMER’s ubiquitous Remote Control studio; ordinarily one finds them on all sorts of B-rate thrillers and action movies. And while ATLI ÖRVARSSON has scored his fair share of those, he now seems to be branching out considerably, with 2013 turning out to be a varied and prolific (if not a little hit-and-miss) year for the Icelandic composer.

The score is fully and purely symphonic, with only a hint of the composer’s heritage bleeding through in the form of the occasional string ostinato (and that particular device is so common that it’s unfair to attribute it entirely to Remote Control). Instead, the focus is squarely on lyricism and emotion, albeit of a somewhat stubbornly dour variety. Two major themes exist; the first and most prominent of these is the love theme, introduced in the opening cue (1). It is structured around a memorable four-note phrase that may remind you of DANNY ELFMAN’s DARK SHADOWS – which makes sense, considering ELFMAN was himself referencing WOJCIECH KILAR in that score and ÖRVARSSON is aiming for a similarly heavy, Eastern European-flavored feel. Regardless of the inspiration, it’s a powerful theme, especially during the portions (e.g. “Free as a Bird” (7)) where it perks up into a major key and offers a glimpse of hope amidst all the desperation. It is given pretty closure in “Outside the Church” (15) with a brief vocal cameo from ÖRVARSSON’s sister and frequent collaborator Hilda.

The other theme, introduced in “The Diamond” (2) has an even more overt Eastern European/Jewish feel to it, and the choice of a clarinet to perform it only strengthens that association – later on, we even get the obligatory and arguably cliché solo violin renditions in “Praying for Willie” (8), “Kanada” (11) and “Colette: End Titles” (16). The latter cue is the theme’s best rendition, and together with the opening title would make an outstanding suite with which to summarize the score. Aside from the melodic passages that dominate the score, there is also a smattering of action music, albeit of a rather low-key variety, for the film’s escape-attempt subplot. “Workshop of Evil” (3) and “The Escape” (14) are good examples, both quietly urgent with propulsive string figures, a low-end piano and low woodwind accents driving things along. It’s reasonably effective – if not immensely engaging – stuff.

It is safe to say that Remote Control composers have not exactly been critical darlings, and the majority of them seem to have very hit-and-miss careers – anyone who had the misfortune of hearing ÖRVARSSON’s scores to EVIDENCE and HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH SLAYERS earlier this year can attest to that. But if anything, that makes it even more of a pleasure to see these composers develop and find their own voices; pieces of ÖRVARSSON’s previous scores have flashed promise, but now with the strong pair of THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS and COLETTE under his belt, it seems he has finally proven his worth for good. If the latter is not quite as entertaining or varied as the former, that is only because of the film’s difficult subject matter, and it is arguably an even more mature and impressive work.


Rating: 7/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Colette 3:36  *****
2 The Diamond 3:02  ****
3 Workshop of Evil 3:10  ***
4 Merci, Mon Amour 2:19  ****
5 Crematorium 2:44  ***
6 Beautiful Brown Eyes 1:59  ***
7 Free as a Bird 1:53  ****
8 Praying for Willie 2:24  ****
9 Triangle of Love and Hate 2:45  ***
10 Plannning the Escape 2:11  ****
11 Kanada 2:46  ***
12 Change of Heart 2:38  ****
13 Cossacks to the Rescue 2:52  ***
14 The Escape 2:42  ****
15 Outside the Church 2:36  ****
16 Colette: End Titles 2:44  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 42 minutes  


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