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Soundtrack review: The beautiful country (Zbigniew Preisner – 2005)

Composer of the month Polish composer month

Soundtrack review: The beautiful country (Zbigniew Preisner – 2005)

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“The beautiful country” is a Vietnam related drama from a director with which Zbigniew Preisner collaborated more than once, Hans Petter Moland. “Aberdeen” was not extremely exciting, I am hoping for more from this one.

Right away, the oriental theme of the movie is obvious in cues like “Saigon”, “The promised land”  and even “The streets of New York”.
After a generic main theme, we dive straight into a cue that starts with a gorgeous Cello motif, “A dream of freedom”. Just like a dream, this track changes mood and tone a few times, from minimalist too deep to atmospheric. “Ship of hope” brings what I’m starting to see is a trademark of Preisner’s, the “dialogue” cue, where two completely different motifs (one deep, one minimalist) take turns. “Letter to my mother” gets agonizingly close to 6 star status for me. It might get it upon another listen. It is a beautiful, touching melody, tragic and hopeful in the same time, and an instant classic.

Duality is not only present inside specific cues. It’s obvious to me in the score as well, because in the first half of the album each Asian influenced cue is followed by a minimalist orchestral one. The minimalist cues have something that really appeals to me. They’re not really atmospheric, they just come and go like thoughts you keep trying to catch: piano notes, soft strings, gentle and unimposing.

“A brother’s death” brings back the haunting woodwind sounds from “Letter to my mother” and this is becoming my favorite motif from the entire score. The woodwind motif also has a Celtic sound for me and it resonates deep inside. “Conversation with father” showcases the brilliant simplicity and sensitivity of this score. The strings are subdued and never pathetic while the piano is clear and lonely.

“The beautiful country” is like the shy child of few words who has a very interesting story to tell once you take the time to get to know him. It is a minimalist, gentle and sensitive score that you might get to cherish….

Cue rating: 76  / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 34 / 50

Album excellence: 67%

 

Highlights:

A Dream of Freedom

Ship of Hope

Letter to my Mother

Rain

A Brother’s Death

Conversation with Father

Memories of Mother

Malaysia

Strange Look

Time Passing

The Beautiful Country: End Credits

 

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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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