Open Range (soundtrack) by Michael Kamen

 

 

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Open Range by Michael Kamen


Open Range  - D1 One sheet Poster
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Open Range (Soundtrack) by Michael Kamen

Open Range (2003)
Composed by Michael Kamen
Hollywood Records

Rating: 8/10

Buy Open Range by Michael Kamen  from Amazon.com

 

Listen to this soundclip of Open RangeOpen Range (361 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Open RangeWounded Button (296 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Open RangeOn the Porch (315 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Open RangeHolding All My Love for You (320 kb)

 

Soundtrack Review

A difficult balance of Old West grittiness, epic vistas, and intimate relationships is handled almost to perfection by Kostner as director and by Kamen as composer.

Home on the Range
Review by Christopher Coleman


"It's probably one of the things that strikes you the most in a Western - the music.  Whether it's "The Big Country" or "The Magnificent Seven" ... the great westerns have that great music.  It immediately launches you...places you."  Kevin Costner.

For a film that almost didn't see the light of a movie projector, OPEN RANGE, was one of the finest films of 2003...and one of the finest westerns I've ever seen.  For all of his critics, Kevin Costner, as a director, does hit one out of the park every once in a while.  Featured in Costner's 2003 tale of a rag-tag-group of freegrazers and their struggles against the powers-that-be in a nearby town, is composer Michael Kamen's engaging score. Filled with grand themes, intimate instrumentation, and his own signature sounds, OPEN RANGE is one of composer Michael Kamen's most memorable works.

Kamen's score for OPEN RANGE, like the film, is filled with a rugged-charm.  A difficult balance of Old West grittiness, epic vistas, and intimate relationships is handled almost to perfection by Kostner as director and by Kamen as composer.  With only a couple of small projects since his original work for the HBO mini-series, BAND OF BROTHERS in 2001, OPEN RANGE demonstrates Michael Kamen's command of both the pen and the baton.  Sadly, only a few months after the release of OPEN RANGE, the film-music world would lose this great talent and human being.  Thankfully, his work lives on to forever remind movie watchers and film music lovers of his great talent.

The film opens with the grand title theme, "Open Range," that is classically Kamen.  The brass fanfare grabs the listener's attention as the incredible visuals of the prairies of the plain-states (played by Calgary, Canada) woos us into wonder and anticipation.  Accompanied by scintillating strings as well as guitar, the audience is emotionally hooked right from the onset.  The Open-Range-four-note-motif pops up appropriately throughout the first-half of the film and score, but as the plot thickens, the motif is used less and less.  The use of the main theme is slow replaced with another wonderful, love theme from Kamen.  The shift in theme emphasis reflect a couple of key points, aside from the obvious romantic interest.  First, a shift in locale.  The main characters move from scenes in the "open range" to the confines of the local town of Harmonville.    Second, the change in emphasis also reflects the change of heart happening within the lead free grazers, Duvall, but especially Costner's character, Charley Wait.  The lure of the great open spaces of the West fades in the light of the security and warmth of settling in a small town.  On the soundtrack, the main theme is relegated to subtle quotes or rearrangements until the final track (and beginning of the end credits), "Teapot" (22) where it briefly resumes it's grand status.

Michael Kamen has delivered his fair share of romantic themes from "Marion's Theme" in ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES to CIRCLE OF FRIENDS and he adds to his impressive list with the love theme from OPEN RANGE.  Innocently introduced on the flute in "Laudanum Dream" (11) the theme quickly gains steam in the following track "Charley and Sue" and finally reaches its potential in "Proposal" (21).  The aforementioned track "Teapot" knits the two main themes of OPEN RANGE together beautifully and makes for a fitting close to the CD.

Speaking of the CD release by Hollywood Records, it starts differently from the film.  While the grand Open-range-theme fitting begins the film, the producers chose to start the soundtrack with the lone pop tune - a practice I am normally vehemently against.  That said, the vocal tune, "Holding All My Love for You" performed by Julianne Raye, is an arrangement of Michael Kamen's infectious love-theme.  As much as I prefer such tracks at the end of the soundtrack, this is an exception.  Raye's, Sarah Maclachlan-like-vocals have the slightest of "twang", yet mesh well over Kamen's theme, which has been massaged into pop/country ballad.  As well as it works on the front-end, it is even more effective over the end credits - having had the love theme fully established through the film.

OPEN RANGE features more than these two themes, of course.  A wonderfully, simple theme for Buttons, the orphaned, Mexican, picked up and cared for by "Boss" features prominently in "Wounded Button" (10) but also again in the climactic "Gunfight" (18).  In fact iButton's theme is an interesting variation of the main theme, played on guitar. The "baddies" are well represented in tracks in pieces like the dissonant "Spooks on the Hill" (8), while the conflict between the cowboys and townies is underscored with pensive effectiveness in tracks such as "Cat and Mouse" (15), "Face Off" (17) as well as "Gunfight" (18).

The soundtrack runs just under 50 minutes with many of the tracks being under 3 minutes long.  Still, the soundtrack is an easy listen, start to finish.  While composer Michael Kamen did have a couple of projects released after OPEN RANGE none would go on to rival his work for OPEN RANGE.  While the score here can be somewhat mindful of some of James Newton Howard's works, OPEN RANGE maintains its own personality, clearly signed by Michael Kamen.  He leaves a great legacy of quality film music behind him and OPEN RANGE is solidly a part of that legacy.

Rating: 8/10

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Track Listing and Ratings

Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Holding All My Love for You 3:16  ****
2 Open Range 2:36  *****
3 Card Game 1:24  ***
4 Wagon Wheel 1:58  ****
5 Cattle Drive 1:15  ****
6 Ride to Town 3:27  ****
7 Decade 1:45  ***
8 Spooks on the Hill 1:21  ***
9 Starry Night 3:02  ***
10 Wounded Button 0:59  ****
11 Laudanum Dream 2:12  ****
12 Charley and Sue 1:44  ****
13 Boss Convices Charley 2:15  ****
14 On the Porch 2:33  ****
15 Cat and Mouse 4:09  ***
16 Baxter Taunts Charley 1:31  ***
17 Face Off 1:35  ****
18 Gunfight 3:35  ****
19 Aftermath 2:22  ****
20 Charley Rides Off 3:03  ****
21 Proposal 3:31  *****
22 Teapot 1:58  *****
  Total Running Time (approx) 49 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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