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Soundtrack review: King of Devil’s Island (Johan Soderquist – 2014)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: King of Devil’s Island (Johan Soderquist – 2014)

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“King of Devil’s Island” is a fiction based on a true story. It’s about an island in Norway where underage delinquents were brought and mistreated. Eventually they riot and the army comes to fight them. Johan Soderquist wrote the score and I am familiar with his work. I always enjoyed his deep and sensitive compositions.

The prologue is a haunting cello solo that sends chills down your spine. The mood is set right away as cold and lonely. “The arrival” is even sadder and deeper and within two minutes the composer has made me care for the main characters of this movie. I love how Soderquist employs the strings. Just listen to “The riot”: all the urgency and buildup of this cue is done by a fast and sharp string play with percussion in the background. This is an exciting and infectious theme worthy of an uprising.

On some portions the strings play in an almost Arabic way (Alone 1) but the effect is the same: uncomfortable and sad. Every now and then the flute brings tenderness in this harsh atmosphere and I hear hope. There’s very little of it in this score though. Most tracks are played by one or two instruments for a minimalist but effective result. Being used to this, when a cue like “Erling is caught” comes, I appreciate even more its richness and melody.

“King of Devil’s Island” is a beautiful and serious composition where the elegiac tone dominates and only finds release in the “End credits” when all other instruments die down and the solo piano plays the final notes.  This score is special and you will feel all the pain, sorrow, scares or rage of the characters. With only a few notes and instruments, Johan Soderquist introduced us into a world I wouldn’t want to be part of. He painted it so well that I can’t wait to get back to my real life once the score is over. “King of Devil’s Island” will leave and echo that will haunt you long after it’s over.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 14 / 39

Album excellence: 35%

Highlights:

Prologue

The Arrival

First Night

The Riot

Erling Carries Stones

Erling Is Caught

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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