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Soundtrack review: Quo Vadis (Jan A.P. Kaczmarek – 2001)

Composer of the month Polish composer month

Soundtrack review: Quo Vadis (Jan A.P. Kaczmarek – 2001)


“Quo vadis”, one of the most famous Polish literary works got a number of adaptations. Jan A.P Kaczmarek wrote the score for the latest of them.

“Destiny” is the first cue that really draws me to this score. The instrumentation is similar to the one used in many cues from “Gladiator”, so I am familiar with the duduk and how beautiful it sounds. The religious theme of the score is sustained with choirs, both male and female, depending on the subject, and echoes. The Roman flavor is induced with Arabic influents rhythms and instruments. I have read the book; I am familiar with the story, and the sound of Kaczmarek’s score fits with what I would have imagined. The mood the composer sets is crafted just as vividly as the sets they used in the movie.

The love theme “Lygia and Vinicius” is gentle and soft. It sounds like a calm ocean, swaying under a soft breeze. The theme sounds very chaste. I like very much the sensitivity of cues like “Peace for the persecuted”, because even with the haunting male voice wailing, it never becomes pathetic or overly dramatic. It is just a beautiful prayer.

The most important cue of the score is “Love and dying (meditation)” which is 12 minutes long. It must have caught me in the right mood… or maybe it’s just that good. But it’s one amazing cue… calming, soothing and even if it doesn’t change pace for its duration, I couldn’t possibly get bored. It just flows like an imaginary river, peaceful and warm. This is a beautiful track and I would have really liked to have been there when it was recorded…

The atmosphere “Quo Vadis” sets is unique. The main theme of the story is kindness and every track of the score embraces that feeling. It feels as if Kaczmarek used an invisible brush of sensitivity and applied it to every tone in his composition. There is not a single trace of hatred or aggression in the music. It’s as if it is seen through the eyes of the Christians, not the Romans. Even tracks like “Rome in flames” and “Violence” lack the epic sound that they could have had, and this makes them fit perfectly with the rest of the score.

“Quo Vadis” is a very interesting listen. It has a Ben Hur sound and feel  and I will definitely return to it in the future, when my inner state demands it.

Cue rating: 79 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 45 / 62

Album excellence: 73%



  1. First Meeting
  2. Destiny
  3. You Are Blessed
  4. Lygia And Vinicius
  5. Peace For The Persecuted
  6. Ostrianum
  7. Love And Dying (Meditation)
  8. Lygia Rescued
  9. Violence
  10. Nero’s Death
  11. I Return To Rome


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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