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Soundtrack review: Sherpa (Antony Partos – 2016)


Soundtrack review: Sherpa (Antony Partos – 2016)


“Sherpa” is a 2015 documentary about a tragedy that would change Everest forever. At 6.45am on 18th April, 2014, a 14 million ton block of ice crashed down onto the climbing route through the Khumbu Icefall, killing 16 Sherpas. It was the worst tragedy in the history of Everest. The disaster provoked a drastic reappraisal about the role of the Sherpas in the Everest industry. Sherpa, tells the story of how, in the face of fierce opposition, the Sherpas united in grief and anger to reclaim the mountain they call Chomolungma. The interesting thing is that the filmmakers had set out to write a documentary about an entirely different story when this happened. The score was written by Antony Partos.

I dive wholeheartedly in this score as I listen to the opening cue “Sherpa’s journey”. The music is epic, dramatic and intense and I feel as if I have been part of the story for a long time. It’s not very often that score pulls me so fast in its world and away from the reality around me. The story begins only from the second cue and as usual in movies involving tragedies or disasters the beginning is nice and doesn’t announce the drama. “Mountain dreaming” is a cue that’s both beautiful and respectful as if written by someone who is faced with the magnitude of the mountain and know show small he is.

I like how the piano is used in this score. The piano motifs are winding like endless mountain paths while the strings are the wind that changes everything. After listening to thousands of scores I know that a composer who writes a theme like “Phurba’s theme” is someone I will follow form now on and try to listen to as much as I can. Just listen to this emotional and caring piece of music and I’m sure you will be touched. And when this is followed by something like “Khumbu icefall” which is built of cracking sounds and echoes or various instruments and electronic pulses and has a melodic undertone that makes me fear and I know that “Sherpa” is a score I will come back to.

From what I’ve seen and read, the life of the Sherpas or for that matter the life of anyone on the mountain is lonely and quiet. The music captures that marvelously with the laid back flow of the piano and the deep and somber string motifs. There’s nothing loud or aggressive in the music, just a frozen feeling of eternity.

Mournful without being overly dramatic, respectful and above all, beautiful “Sherpa” is one of the revelations of 2016 for me. The music spoke to me and I listened and I felt. That’s all I need from film music.

Cue rating: 91 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 32 / 48
Album excellence: 67%

Sherpas’ Journey
Phurba’s Theme
Khumbu Icefall
Tenzing’s Injustice
Phurba’s Thoughts
Phurba’s Return
A new day beckons

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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