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Soundtrack review: The insider (Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The insider (Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke)



There was a time when Michael Mann was my favorite film maker. His movies were true works of art. The way “Heat”, “Collateral”, “The Insider” or “Miami Vice” looked, felt and sounded was all I ever wanted to experience. He also had a very interesting way of choosing the music for his films: some 60% regular composer score, and 40% awesome instrumental pieces (jazz, or techno, or electronic, or guitar) that worked amazingly with both the movie and the rest of the score. “Heat” is still one of the scores I listen to most often.

I’ve also been a longtime admirer of Lisa Gerrard and Dead can dance. Lisa says that she sings in “the language of the heart”. I agree with her. There aren’t many singers or composers who can go that deep. One of her most frequent collaborators is Pieter Bourke, and together they crafted one of my favorite scores ever.

The Insider is ample and deep; it’s frozen, almost still, it’s beautiful and mesmerizing. It’s also very lonely…It’s one of the loneliest scores I’ve ever heard, but that’s the way it should be. The movie is all about Russell Crowe’s character’s tribulations and tough decisions, and he had to make all of them by himself, regardless of outside interventions. It’s a lonely place to have to choose between honor and exposing something that might kill millions and shutting up and protecting yourself and your family.

The meditative and deep sound of this score gave me a very interesting reaction. “The insider” brought something very new and important in the way I view music in general and movie scores in particular: a need to associate a certain album with a season of the year. When I heard this score, and especially the middle part which also includes the Graeme Revell cues, I closed my eyes and thought of winter. Actually I didn’t just think of winter…I felt the chill of a calm and clear early winter day. Everything is still, the blinding sun makes it almost impossible to look at the snow and all I can see is the perfect blue of the sky and the pure white stretching as far as the eyes can see. It’s a magnificent setting for a walk, or a run. I am alone there, just me and my thoughts….This is where “The Insider” sends every time I listen to it. It’s an early, clear winter score. And since I’ve heard it, I’ve always tried to put every score in a season category. I find that it enhances the listening experience, if the weather outside is suitable.

Just listen to the sequence “Exile”, “The silencer”, “Broken”, “Faith”, slowly freezing everything until time simply stops in Graeme Revell’s amazing “I’m alone on this”. I would also like to highlight “Liquid moon”. It makes me shiver.

The cues not written specifically for this score are equally impressive and suitable. “Sacrifice”, written by Lisa Gerard and Pieter Bourke for their “Duality” album, is the most complex track on this album. It’s a track I cannot listen to just as background music…it challenges me, it moves me, it troubles me. The way it’s used in the movie was also perfect, because it plays over the scene where the interview finally airs, and everyone, especially Russell Crowe’s family, sees what the entire struggle had been for. He is vindicated, and it one of the most remarkable seconds of the movie, his children, his girls, turn their eyes away from the TV to look at him. The image freezes for a couple of moments, as if time stopped, and Michael Mann’s unique filming technique adds to the poignancy of the scene. I love that scene, and it comes at the pinnacle of “Sacrifice”.

Gustavo Santalolalla’s “Iguazu” (also heard on the Babel score) and saxophone genius Jan Garbarek’s “Rites” also flow perfectly with Gerard and Bourke’s compositions and sound like natural expressions of the two main characters’ trains of thought. I can never get enough of “Iguazu”, it’s a perfect track.

I could write pages about this score and how much I love it. It just hit a spot with me from the first time I heard it. The movie is also among my favorites ever and it wouldn’t have been complete without this masterpiece.


Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 52/52

Album excellence: 100%



Dawn of the Truth


The Subordinate


The Silencer



I’m Alone On This

LB In Montana

Palladino Montage


Liquid Moon

Rites (Special Edit for the Film)

Safe from Harm (Perfecto Mix)


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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