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In the Land of Blood and Honey by Gabriel Yared

In the Land of Blood and Honey

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In the Land of Blood and Honey (Soundtrack) by Gabriel Yared
In the Land of Blood and Honey (Soundtrack) by Gabriel Yared










In the Land of Blood and Honey (Soundtrack) by Gabriel Yared

In the Land of Blood and Honey
Composed by Gabriel Yared
Varese Sarabande (2011)

Rating: 5/10

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“YARED scores have become somewhat elusive on album, and unfortunately, IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY does little to correct that ill.”

Ever Elusive
Review by Edmund Meinerts

ANGELINA JOLIE makes a surprising directorial debut with IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY, a film that uses the love story between a Bosnian POV and the Bosnian Serb overseer of the camp in which she is held captive to depict the atrocities of the Bosnian war. Casting exclusively local actors who themselves lived through the horrific conflict, and with a mostly Bosnian and Serbo-Croatian script, JOLIE has been praised for her sincere attempt to bring this often-forgotten war to the attention of the public. Since its limited release at the end of December, however, the film has picked up some criticism for being too heavy-handed in its message and its dramatized, and some have said caricatured portrayal of the Serbs.

Handling musical duties for this project is Lebanese composer and former art house favorite GABRIEL YARED, who made a splash in Hollywood during the late 1990s on such popular, well-known dramatic and romantic projects as THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE and THE ENGLISH PATIENT. Film music collectors, however, mostly remember his involvement in the musical fiasco of TROY, for which YARED’S enormous score, a labor of love on which the composer had worked for over a year, was unceremoniously replaced by a last-minute JAMES HORNER effort. His career since then has slowed down considerably, only taking on a handful of lesser-known, often foreign films. In short, YARED scores have become somewhat elusive on album, and unfortunately, IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY does little to correct that ill.

The main reason for that, as a quick glance at the liner notes will readily make apparent, is the fact that YARED’S contribution to the film is limited to only a little more than a quarter of the album, comprising the first four tracks. The rest is devoted to source songs by little-known Bosnian artists, with the notable exception of the U2 and BRIAN ENO single “Miss Sarajevo” (5), which combines BONO’S downbeat, contemporary voice with an unexpected solo from robust opera tenor LUCIANO PAVAROTTI, to surprisingly effective genre-bending collaboration. Given the subject matter of the well-known song, its inclusion on the soundtrack is unsurprising, but it did not appear in the film.

But back to YARED’S music. His twelve-minute contribution is anchored by a deeply melancholic theme presented first in “When the Heart Dies” (1) by the solo voice of NATASA MIRKOVIC. Her voice certainly brings a raw, emotional flavor to the cue (not unlike TANYA TZAROVSKA’S vocals that flavored both YARED’S and HORNER’S scores for TROY), but the elusive, hard-to-pin-down progressions of the theme itself make the cue a somewhat alienating one that probably works better within its intended context. More accessible for YARED collectors, perhaps, is “The Loss” (4), the sole cue on the album to remind of his classically inclined scores of the late 90s. Here, piano and strings offer the theme in a warmer presentation in which YARED’S romanticism threatens to emerge. Ultimately, however, the Eastern European twists within the theme’s progressions, as well as a decidedly ambiguous ascending bass line that is neither threatening nor comforting, allow melancholy to eventually triumph – as one would expect from a cue entitled “The Loss”.

“Sables Mouvants” (2) is the most outwardly melodramatic moment of the score, in which emotional string layers eventually yield to a more propulsive passage that introduces the score’s only percussion usage, as well as some decidedly modern, JOHN POWELL-esque string chopping – certainly not something YARED is particularly well-known for, making it an interesting departure. “Towards the Unknown” (3) is yet another cue in which melody and warmth struggle to assert themselves, but ultimately succumb to the weighty tragedy of the film’s historical backdrop.

The rest of the album is given over to a collection of eight source songs from various Bosnian artists, and while they might work wonders in contributing to the film’s authenticity, they offer little to the more traditional score collector. Fortunately, none of them are truly unpleasant. “Moja Boznica” (8), an acoustic guitar-led piece with vocals performed by one of the film’s lead actors, is a particularly good match for the downbeat tone of YARED’S score. Still, it’s difficult to imagine many score collectors returning to this portion of the album more than once.

Ultimately, judging IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY is a somewhat tricky prospect. On the one hand, it’s hard not to appreciate the effort to, above all, preserve a level of authenticity in the music for this film, and by including such a large amount of contemporary songs from the region in which it takes place, this album does just that. Additionally, the balance of overwhelming melancholy with hints of warmth within YARED’S score is intelligently handled, and a good match for the movie’s premise of a love story troubled by war. However, it is readily apparent that this soundtrack (produced by YARED, JOLIE and Varese Sarabande regular ROBERT TOWNSON) was assembled to be a souvenir of the film, and is therefore best recommended to enthusiasts thereof. Film score fans, however, will most likely be disappointed with the insubstantial amount of score available on the album – and what little score does feature is hardly likely to set the world on fire.

Rating: 5/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 When the Heart Dies 4:00  ***
2 Sables Mouvants 3:16  ****
3 Towards the Unknown 2:17  ***
4 The Loss 3:05  ****
5 Miss Sarajevo 5:45  ****
6 Evo Jedne Sto Se Svira Na Plazi 2:54  ***
7 The Waves 5:14  **
8 Moja Bozicna 4:17  ***
9 Zemlja 2:14  **
10 Tebi Za Ljubav 3:17  **
11 Stani Draga 3:53  ***
12 Od Srca (From the Heart) 2:59  ***
13 A Wish 3:59  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 47 minutes  


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