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Soundtrack review: Relatos salvajes (Gustavo Santaolalla – 2014)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Relatos salvajes (Gustavo Santaolalla – 2014)


„Relatos salvajes” („Wild tales”) is an Argentinian black comedy drama that consists of six stories united by a theme of violence and vengeance. Sounds like a lot of fun. It’s been nominated for best foreign film at the 2015 Academy Awards and I am interested in it because the score was written by Gustavo Santaolalla. I am a big fan and I can’t wait for anything he composes.

There’s a prologue and six stories in the movie and there are seven cues written by Santaolalla on the score. The main theme speaks to me in a very familiar voice. It’s very Morricone-esque in sound and it sends me back to European police movies from the 70s or 80s. I almost expect to see Alain Delon appear from somewhere and solve a case. Regardless of the topic of the movie this opening theme puts me in a very good mood and it’s the kind of cue that makes me replay it a few times.

“Relatos salvajes” is not your usual Gustavo Santaolalla composition. There’s no guitar playing all the emotions in the movie and I am excited to see this side of the composer. The music is tense and even uncomfortable. I am listening to “El mas fuerte” and I hear strange creaking noises and instruments being plucked and beats I didn’t think I could hear on a Santaolalla score. This is experimental music which builds up into quite an interesting piece. I do not want to be in the middle of whatever is happening in this track but I do enjoy watching from afar. “El mas fuerte” is the segment of the movie about a highway confrontation and I understand the palpable tension in its theme. To me it sounds like a nightmare I would want to wake up from fast.

But once again is the adventurous police movie sounding atmosphere that gets to me.”Bombita” joins the “Main theme” on memory lane and the darkness goes away and it’s replaced by the lovely views of the French Riviera. This is what the music tells me and I just close my eyes and enjoy its story. It’s the light that compensates the darkness of this score. It is also the only story of the movie with a sort of happy ending.

I think Gustavo Santaolalla chose to score the main themes of the movie instead of the separate instances. There is a quiet and almost desperate violence in the music, violence I was not used to in his scores. 2014 was a year in which we had a lot of weird and experimental scores and for me “Relatos salvajes” falls in the same category. It is a very short composition made of moments from which I can extract enough sensations to be satisfied with the listening experience.

Cue rating : 80 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 5 / 22

Album excellence: 22%


Relatos Salvajes


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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