Film scores

Soundtrack review: L’Araucana (Carlo Savina – 1971)

KG15

“L’arucana: Massagro degli dei” or “Massacre of the gods” is an Italo-Spanish-Chilean drama from 1971 about a period known as “The conquest of Chile”. From what I read “L’Araucana” is a 16th century epic poem about this period and is considered one of the most important works of the Spanish Golden age. As part of its “Gold collection”, Kronos Records releases this wonderful score from Carlo Savina, another amazing Italian film music composer. He collaborated with a lot of the most famous composers of the 20th century but his biggest influence was Miklos Rozsa. This score is very fragmented, 40 cues for less than 40 minutes.

I expect this score to be very related to the Spaghetti Western sound I love so much. It’s not hard to hear that once the “L’Arucana” theme starts with its bald brass section and the riding feeling. There’s a constant percussion in the background and I feel motivated to do whatever this score ask me to. The conquistadores arrive on a march quieter than I expected but just as musically appealing. The first emotional themes of the score have that unmistakable echo which makes me think of Native American settlings, of a simple and rewarding life.

I enjoy the sound of this score; it’s a collection of moments, musical cries, interesting instrumental inserts and sounds that make me think of nights in the open air, the perpetual motion of life in nature. When it gets a little louder and the brass instruments take over, almost always accompanied my marching percussion, the score gets inspirational. There are no clearly identifiable themes or even well-developed ones (it would have been hard at an average of less than 1 minute per cue) but the score works because most of the cues only use a few instruments so none of them are busy. It’s either a harp and flute, or percussion and trumpet or simple echoes. The composer allows us to watch this score take form and to choose our favorite parts: the loud ones or the quieter ones.

There’s little emotion other than the need to join the cause in “L’Arucana”. But when these moments come, you will feel them. The tender and wonderful “First kiss”, “Ines and Pedro” and “Mi Coya” might stand almost alone but they are among the most memorable moments of the score. The rest of the music focuses on the marching and the fighting and the more I listen to it the more it feels as if I am watching a tapestry depicting separate scenes form a battle that took place ages ago. I am not there in the middle of it but I see the pieces and I try to put them together to get an idea of what happened.

“L’Araucana” is a raw and beautiful composition that comes from an age when film music was different. It’s the sound of a period, or a life long gone and it will be different from the music you are used to hearing today. If you are in the mood for a simple yet poignant war score which hits all the marks, this is for you. It would be a shame to miss apiece of film music history.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 18 / 39

Album excellence: 45%

Highlights:

L’araucana

Cuzco 1540

En Marcha

Taking Tabs

First Kiss

Riverbound

Inez And Pedro

Mi Coya

Electing The Warchief

Araucana Beat

Inez Returns Home

Chained To The Wall

Married

Don Pedro’s Trial

Don Pedro De Valdivia – I

Don Pedro De Valdivia – II

Don Pedro Remembers

Ego Te Absulvo

Finale

 

 

 

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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