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Joe Versus the Volcano (Soundtrack) by Georges Delerue

"Marooned Without Delerue"
Review by Christopher Coleman


Joe Versus the Volcano (Soundtrack) by Georges Delerue

Joe Versus the Volcano

Category  |   Score

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


Real Audio Clips



Georges Delerue





Composed and Conducted by Georges Delerue
Album Produced by Robert Townson; Recorded and Mixed by Bobby Fernandez;
Music Editor: Kenneth Wannberg; Mastered by Erick Labson
Masters Film Music – Varese Sarabande - Released 2002

Largely hailed as the weakest link in master-thespian Tom Hanks’ armor, Joe Versus the Volcano was a charming (if somewhat surreal) modern fairy tale movie. Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, Joe Versus the Volcano is the story of a man named…well…Joe, and his attempt to find life through death. The truth is that watching this movie for the first time is a little disturbing, because the essential thrust of the plot is that Joe has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and thus, volunteers himself as a human sacrifice to appease an angry volcano on a little island--It’s fun, bring the family.

Despite the genuine-though-initially misunderstood hilarity that ensues in the film—(we’ll bypass that for now)—one of the most striking elements of the film was its’ unabashedly romantic score by composer Georges Delerue. Most of it was barely noticed in the first half of movie, due to some well-placed pop songs. (None of them appear on this release.) However, when the key moments in the latter half of the movie occurred, there was Delerue’s wonderful score, as big as the moon in the middle of the ocean (see the movie.)

Alas, this movie sunk faster at the box office than the entire island of Waponi Wu (see the movie) and so did any hope of a score-release album. However, like Joe’s invaluable watertight luggage (see the movie), the score has miraculously risen to the surface once again, courtesy of the aptly-named Masters Film Music collection, Varese Sarabande’s limited edition release label.

Every cue is a true highlight, and it would almost ruin the experience to dissect each and every track, but to give you some idea of what to expect: The CD opens with a brief clip (Track 1 – “Once Upon A Time…”) of a music box/fairy-tale-like theme, which appears throughout the score. Immediately following is a dire and dramatic cue, entitled “Brain Cloud”, as somber strings play out Joe’s dilemma when diagnosed with this terrible disease. The Love Theme in track 4 (entitled, “Love Theme”, naturally) is the real reason for buying the CD, if you weren’t already convinced. A stately promenade theme is heard in “I’ll Do It”
, to represent Joe’s boldness, without any hint of pomposity.

Terror strikes in track 16, “The Storm and Rescue”
, a huge cue that is ominous, yet exaggerated in such a way that you know there is no real threat—and the moment you know is when the storm cue climaxes in an restatement of the love theme, before descending once again into the ominous swirlings of the symphony, then dying out slowly as the storm loses its’ strength. Trumpets at the end of the cue signal the Waponi presence, which brings us to the next hilarious tracks (17 and 18), ethnic tribal renditions of “Hava Nagila” (see the movie!) and “Johnny Comes Marching Home”.

Even Mendelssohn makes a brief appearance in “I’ve Got To Go” that signals Joe’s impromptu recognition of true love, even as he’s marching off to certain doom, though whether you choose to believe the Deus Ex Machina that awaits Joe at the end of the movie is completely your choice, but remember, it is a modern fairy tale. Thusly, Delerue closes off the album with a lyrical version of his love theme, “Marooned Without You”, a beautiful and non-intrusive vocal addition here, which, even if you don’t buy the sentimentality of the lyrics, you are buying the sentimentality of the orchestra behind them.

Any severe detraction here could be attributed to a few too-short cues, but overall, a charming score, a pleasing listen, a true masterwork, and completely worthy of your time and money. For the dreamer and the collector, and a pure treasure for the fortunate few who are both.

Track Listing and Ratings


Title Time


1 Once Upon a Time… 19:59  ***
2 Brain Cloud 3:04  ****
3 Dinner With Dee Dee 2:03  ***
4 Love Theme 1:12  *****
5 Joe Alone 0:26  ***
6 Graynamore’s Pitch 1:53  **
7 I’ll Do It 1:18  ****
8 New York 0:28  **
9 Shopping Spree 2:14  ***
10 Alone In New York 1:30  ***
11 To The Hotel 0:48  ***
12 To The Ship 2:41  ****
13 History of the Waponis 0:38  **
14 Pat Tells Joe 2:26  ****
  15 Fishing 3:25  ****  
  16 The Storm and The Rescue 9:10  *****  
  17 Hava Nagila and When Johnny Comes Marching Home  1:32  ***  
  18 I’ve Got to Go 3:28  ****  
  19 Explosion and In The Water 2:03  ***  
  20 They Sail Away 1:08  ****  
  21 End Credits 6:14  *****  

Total Running Time


Joe Versus the Volcano by Georges Delerue

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

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