Tracksounds Rating = 7/10
Conducted and Performed by
a Little Orff
by Christopher Coleman
The Messenger has presented Eric Serra with a
great opportunity. What lie
before him is a epic film that usually demands a powerful,
emotion-wrenching score. At
times Serra delivers just that, in his score for The Messenger, and at
others he reverts to his previously established style of aggressive
electronic distinction. While
this style fit The Fifth Element like a glove, it would be
devastating to a story like that of Joan of Arc.
By most accounts, expectations were high for this film and score. It seems on both counts, there has been great disappointment. While Serra’s score for The Messenger might not be all it could have been, it certainly is more than it could have been! Traditional orchestrations are mixed with Serra’s patented electronic elements, which coincide with director Luc Besson’s own style of movie making. To add that classic medieval warfare feel, a chorus is employed. A great idea and it works well in several tracks; however, the “Orff 2000” track at the conclusion is disappointing. It is not that it sounds bad. It just is completely unoriginal.
The score starts off rather well with Talk to Him.
It begins with simple woodwinds and strings- a favorite combo of
mine. The male chorus makes a
very brief appearance and the track continues to build into a beautiful
choral anthem that will show itself again later in the score.
This track makes big promises that most of the score just doesn’t
live up to. Track 2, A
Sword in the Field seems to function as a transitory track, bridging
the beautiful full orchestral style of track 1 to many of the following
A good portion of those tracks that comprise the middle of
the CD, give us elements that Eric Serra has been known for:
deep electronic percussions, muffled explosions, reversed crashes;
however, the composer does weave into his digital fabric some very nice
orchestral work from a long list of instrumentalists (all named in the
nicely designed liner notes, by the way).
Prime examples of this technique can be heard in At One with You
(track 6), Chinon (track 7), The Tourelles (track 16).
One notable track does find itself plugged into the CD’s
mid-section- La Hire’s
Lucky Charm (track 17), which is a nice piece for guitar accompanied
by strings and those deep percussions.
As the concluding tracks of the disc are reached, the flavor becomes decidedly militaristic. Here, the Metro Voices directed by Jenny O’Grady gets the spotlight in several tracks. First, Armaturam Dei (track 19) starts off methodically and then bursts into the theme established in the opening track before concluding with an odd convection of reversed samples ominous synths. Second, at the conclusion of track 20, The Miracle of Orleans, the choral anthem of track 1 and 19 is revisited. Third, Rex Coronator (track 21) features much more subtle yet appealing use of the choir before it, too, makes its way to the choral anthem. The finale is presented through track 26, Angelus in Medio Ignis, a piece that is, unfortunately,a virtual remake of Carl Orff’s classic vocal piece O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, that has come to embody the essence of medieval battle. The positive side of this track is that it is performed quite well by the orchestra and choir, but begs the question, “Why not just use Orff’s piece?” The final track, My Heart Calling, is a lyrically-poor, contemporary vocal cut co-written and produced by Eric Serra, co-written and performed by Noa.
No, the score for The Messenger isn’t all it could have been, but considering that the much-maligned Eric Serra was the composer, it could have been an even more peculiar score. The good news is that this does show promise for his future in film scoring. It shows he isn’t completely limited to synthesized instruments, digital samples, and electronic manipulations. Hopefully, Mr. Serra will continue to explore the realm of the full orchestra and chorus and The Messenger will mark a turning point of sorts for him.
|1||Talk to Him||2:20||****|
|2||A Sword in the Field||0:50||***|
|3||Joan and the Wolves||1:16||**|
|4||Burying Our Children||1:30||***|
|6||At One with you||1:12||***|
|9||The Messenger of God||2:44||**|
|11||Secrets of a Strange Wind||4:52||*|
|12||To the King of England||1:35||***|
|13||Sent by God||1:03||**|
|14||Procession to Orleans||1:29||***|
|15||Recrossing the River||2:16||**|
|17||La Hire's Lucky Charm||1:48||****|
|20||The Miracle of Orleans||2:00||***|
|23||Anger and Confession||2:03||***|
|26||Angelus in Medio Ignis||2:15||***|
|27||My Heart Calling (Performed by Noa)||4:20||**|
|Total Playing Time||63:56|
That's the best way I could describe this score and album. With the sheer
mass number of musicians and choral performers involved with this project,
it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why this score doesn't click. It has
all of the base elements that an epic "knights in armor" genre
score requires --heavy strings, large choral sequences, ringing bells,
etc... but Serra's result is barely functional music that just isn't an
enjoyable listen in great length. The album has some very noteworthy cues,
but they are often separated by long moments of nothingness. **
Clemmensen - Filmtracks
Serra is renowned for his
atmospheric-type synthesised scores, most notably of course for Besson,
with his work on the tremendous Leon being a particular favourite
of mine, though it has to be said a lot of these scores do not work so
well on disc, away from the movie. Joan of Arc is a happy
James Southall - Moviewave
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Messenger is exclusive property of Sony Classical (c) 1999. Its
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