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Journey from the Fall
by Christopher Wong

Journey from
the Fall

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Journey from the Fall (Soundtrack) by Christopher Wong

Journey from the Fall
Composed by Christopher Wong
Moviescore Media (2007)

Rating: 7/10

 

 

Listen to this soundclip of Journey from the FallLegend of Le Loi (360 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Journey from the FallDrifting in the Rain (375 kb)


More clips from Journey from the Fall at Moviescore Media

 

“CHRISTOHPER WONG's score matches (the film's) emotional depth, but buried within its sorrows is a subtle strength and beauty that makes this score infinitely listenable.”

The Other Side of Left Behind
Review by Christopher Coleman

On April 30, 1975, Saigon fell and the United States pulled out of Vietnam.  Since then, audiences have been told and re-told the stories of the men who fought there and what happened to some who returned home.  We all know very well that the scars of that "incident" run deep in the US.  As horrific as that side of the story can be, it is, at the most, only half.  After the fall of Saigon, some 2 million Vietnamese fled their country in search of safety and freedom.  JOURNEY FROM THE FALL tells the story of one family's quest to reach the shores of the country that abandoned them and, for one of them, to stand for his beliefs in the face of the victorious Viet Cong...even if that stand is taken on the grounds of a political prison.

The film JOURNEY FROM THE FALL succeeds on many levels.  Up-and-coming director/writer, Ham Tran, delivers the story beautifully through a solid screenplay, creative editing, and some mesmerizing photographic moments. Telling the story through flash-backs and flash-forwards commands the viewers attention and even when the film seems to lose its way in its final act, Tran shows this "waywardness" was quite in hand all along. JOURNEY FROM THE FALL an indy-flick but, not only that, it is a foreign-language indy, written and acted in Vietnamese (brilliantly acted, I might add).  More often than not, films like this, with more heart than budget, get buried beneath the deluge of Hollywood schrot (and even the growiing indy-shrot).  Many good films like JOURNEY simply slide under our Western noses with hardly a sniff.

One last, but by far not the least, reason for JOURNEY FROM THE FALL working as well as it does is CHRISTOPHER WONG's simple, but evocative musical score.  Wong's score is dominated by two musical themes:  the title theme and the "separation" or "imprisonment" theme.  Both beautiful and sorrowful, he makes the most of these two themes throughout the score, while somehow avoiding overuse and tedium.

The title theme sets a clear mood for the film immediately.  As the mythic legend of one of Vietnam's greatest Emperor/Kings is narrated, the theme is introduced by piano and followed by strings of both eastern and western origin.  As scores featuring eastern instrumentation so often do, Wong's title theme is filled with a sense of loss and longing, but remains lined with hope - echoing the personality of the film.  One listen to the "Legend of Le Loi" (1) and I can virtually guarantee an addiction to its melody.  Ironically, despite the theme being written long before principle photography was completed, this piece was the last to be completed before recording.  Wong's title theme can also be finds meaningful reprisals in "Packing Up" (8), "The Long Voyage" (10), and "Journey from the Fall" (16).

While the title theme takes the score and movie to it's emotional peaks, Wong's secondary theme provides a needed counter-balance.  This theme is most often played by solo guitar or piano and reflects the isolation and separation of Vietnamese familes; some desperately trying to reach the United States and others trying to survive imprisonment.  This theme often surfaces as the lead character, Long Nguyen, or other prisoners of the "re-education" camps think or talk about the family they love and will likely never see again.  This separation theme is introduced in "Drifting in the Rain" (5); solo piano giving way to a small string ensemble.  "The Promise" (7) offers another effective performance of the theme, but this time on guitar.  In a vacuum this piece might sound a bit too "western," but within the context of the film, one of the inmates slowly crafts a crude guitar and upon its completion, plays this very tune.

In very much the same way that composers Mychael and Jeff Danna have done in the past (see GREEN DRAGON or UNCORKED) or like Zbigniew Preisner’s THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY, CHRISTOPHER WONG makes the overall experience of the score feel much larger than the sum of its instrumental parts.  Almost all of the tracks are under 3 minutes (many under 2 minutes), but when listened to straight through, provide a thoughtful and cohesive listening experience.  The final track of music from the film, "Journey of the Fall" is by far the longest reaching 7:54 and plays over the end credits.

Given the brevity of the score, the producers wisely added value to the release by including six additional tracks from previous CHRISTOPHER WONG projects: one from THE ANNIVERSARY (a previous collaboration with Ham Tran) and five from FIRST MORNING.  All of these "bonus" tracks flow nicely with the mood established by JOURNEY, but none of which are quite as poignant. Moviescore Media offers JOURNEY FROM THE FALL as downloadable purchase or from Screen Archives Entertainment as a limited edition compact disc and either are well worth the investment. 

In recent years we have been treated to an increasing number of books and films telling the aftermath-story from the fall of Saigon.  There have been many American movies about the lives of soldiers upon returning from Vietnam, but now we are hearing the poignant stories of  those Vietnamese who fled their own country to find a new home.  As war always does, left in its merciless wake, are an uncountable number of amazing stories of lives lost, lives shattered, and lives reborn. Without question, JOURNEY FROM THE FALL is a heart-wrenching film (one that every American should see... of Vietnamese decent or not) and CHRISTOHPER WONG's score matches its emotional depth, but buried within its sorrows is a subtle strength and beauty that makes this score infinitely listenable.
 

Rating: 7/10

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Legend of Le Loi 2:50  *****
2 The Night Market 1:29  ****
3 Fraternity 1:07  ***
4 The Escape 1:48  ***
5 Drifting in the Rain 2:21  ****
6 Family Photos 1:12  ***
7 The Promise 1:07  ****
8 Packing Up 1:20  ****
9 Life in the Camp 1:27  ***
10 The Long Voyage 1:27  ****
11 Finding Letters 1:58  ***
12 Take the Family 1:00  ***
13 Mai's Decision 1:09  ***
14 Holding Hands 0:58  ***
15 A New Beginning 1:22  ***
16 Journey from the Fall 7:54  *****
17 The Anniversary:  End Credits 2:35  ***
18 First Morning: Going to the Fortune Teller 2:50  ***
19 First Morning:  The Truth of Linh 5:39  ***
20 First Morning: Final Farewell 2:40  ***
21 First Morning: Kim Ahn Dies 1:16  ***
22 First Morning:  First Morning 3:29  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 48 minutes  

 

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