documentary Film scores

Soundtrack review: Red army (Christophe Beck – 2015)

RedArmy-2014-1

Composer Christophe Beck is going to have a very busy year in 2015. He carries the hopes of many geeks because he will score both Ant-man and the new Terminator movie. I’m not sure what to think of those assignments since he’s not really know for his epic compositions. Anyway, we’ll wait and see. He starts the year though with the score for the documentary “Red army”. This is one documentary I will watch because it’s about the Soviet hockey team and it’s world domination under ruthless coach Viktor Tikhonov. I am a huge hockey fan and a big fan of Russian players so I’ve seen quite a few games which will be feature din the movie.

The first three tracks of the score set the Russian mood. They are melodic and balalaika or violin heavy. “Red army” is lighter than I expected, “Soviet Russia” is surprisingly playful and feel good while “Tarasov” sounds almost like a Russian drinking song before turning all melodic and waltz like.

“The Russian playing style” is a musical experiment as dazzling as the schemes those players did on ice. The music moves fast and at an insane pace. The strings are playful and There’s a haunting violin and a thunderous choir powerful as the team work of those guys. I love this cue and it really made me want to watch some ice hockey highlights. Beck just goes with it and combines crazy strings with loud percussion and the music comes over me like a tidal wave. In all this madness he manages to keep the local identity alive. I feel all the Russian might in this one and it’s already on my list of favorite cues of 2015. Wow, what a rush this was! Give me more of this.

“Defeat” is dark and haunting. It sounds to me like it plays the feelings after the defeat when the realization starts to sink in. The ever present violin is like a piercing echo that doesn’t let you forget what happened. There’s a low key beeping sound in the background reminiscent of an EKG. It’s the lingering thought that you could have done better. I love the construction of this cue.

The red wave is back in “The greatest five man unit”. The male choir is not as menacing as you’d think but just as effective. The rhythm of this cue is short, sharp and repetitive and that choir shows strength and unity. I am amazed at how great this score sounds. Christophe Beck experimented with his ideas and came up with a very exciting composition. The music is Bear McCreary level chaotic but there’s method in the madness and this fresh sound just takes me over and makes me want to hear more and more of it. Even of the movie refers to events 20 or 30 years ago the fresh sound that the composer went for works. There’s a sensation of permanent motion in the music and you have to keep up.

“Brotherhood” is pure Russian choral delight. The plucked strings of “Tarasov” return in “Captain Fetisov” and this cue is about a guy I sort of grew up watching. He used to play for the Detroit Red Wings in the year when I discovered the NHL and I used to love controlling him in computer games. Both this and the team for the coach “Tykhonov” are quirky and interesting but they lack the weight I imagined they would have.

When the barrier is broken and the Russian players manage to defect and play in the NHL the mood of the music changes a little bit. It gets stronger and minimizes the Russian sounding instruments. “NHL” is almost anthem like and even has some electronic inserts.

Christophe Beck managed to write a pure Russian score without appealing to the bleakness and heaviness that’s normally associated with this empire. The instruments are there, the male choirs are there, but almost stripped of that dark shroud. They still sound authentic but also modern and this score gives me hope for those two superhero movies. “Red army” is one of the most intriguing and interesting scores Beck has composed lately and now I am starting to get excited to hear what he can do with Terminator. If I listen to “Forgiveness” I can almost see it fit in there with its ambient sound and electronic pulses.

I really enjoyed “Red army” and I can’t wait to listen to it in context.

Cue rating: 84 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 18 / 44

Album excellence: 41%

Highlights:

The Russian Playing Style
Defeat
The Greatest Five Man Unit

Forgiveness

About the author

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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