Film scores

Soundtrack review: Sangraal – La spada di fuoco (Franco Campanino – 1982, 2015)

sangraal

„Sangraal: The sword of fire” (original title „Sangraal: Spada di fuoco”) is a 1982 Italian fantasy epic, I guess their reply to the Conan movies. IMdB says that “A swordsman’s wife is murdered by followers of the evil Goddess Rani. He vows vengeance upon the cult and journeys to the Ark of the Templars to get a magic crossbow that will help him accomplish his mission”. It also says it has 3.7 rating, so that’s not very good. From what I gather composer Franco Campanino, whose work I was unfamiliar with until now, started as part of a rock group in the 60s with his brother. This release is part of the wonderful “Gold collection” from Kronos Records.

Of course everyone’s standard for a sword fantasy score is “Conan the barbarian” by Basil Poleduris. The sound of “Sangraal” is right there and the score is filled with those epic chanting choirs that convey so much power and emotion. It’s a unique sound, it’s a unique world, and Franco Campanino just goes with it. Three tracks into this score and I already regret that it’s so short. The instrumental thunder that underlines the lightning of “Horde raid” is loud and unforgiving. This cue is as good as it’s gets for sword and sorcery music.

“Sangraal and Twan ride” is almost religious in sound. The voices this time seem to be worshiping a higher power and the rhythm focuses on nothing else. It’s true that the music of “Sangraal” doesn’t offer a lot of variety but boy it sounds good. It is interesting that this movie came out in the same year as Conan so the score must have been written back then as well. I get a lot of moments when I think this score took inspiration from the other one but there’s nothing wrong with that. It stands on its own.

“Sangraal finds Lena” offers the first emotional interlude of the album. It’s a beautiful flute based cue that warms the icy and unforgiving atmosphere we had gotten used to. “Finale” shows me exactly why I love Italian composers so much: it has that melodic greatness and sensitivity that I always long for. There’s a tenderness you can’t find in other composers, something particular just to this gorgeous country and culture. This is a cue that can sit proudly near Ennio Morricone’s best. “Finale” is a magnificent déjà vu of countless moments I’ve felt this way.

The short journey of this score ends just as it had begun, with those epic choirs praising “Sangraal” the hero. He fades into the sunset just as he had appeared and leaves a lasting impression. I say it again, I could have done with more than the 27 minutes this release offers us, but I should consider myself lucky to have discovered this gem as it is. It leaves an echo in my ears hours after it’s over.

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 17 / 26

Album excellence: 64%

Highlights:

Opening Titles

Horde Raid

Sangraal And Twan Ride

Sangraal’s Fury

Cavern Creatures

Sangraal Finds Lena

Finale

Finale

Sangraal

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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