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Soundtrack review: The mountain between us (Ramin Djawadi – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: The mountain between us (Ramin Djawadi – 2017)

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“The Mountain Between Us” is a 2017 American romance disaster survival film directed by Hany Abu-Assad and written by Chris Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe, based on the novel of the same name by Charles Martin. It stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet as a surgeon and a journalist, respectively, who survive a plane crash and are stranded in High Uintas Wilderness with injuries and harsh weather conditions. After the cancellation of their flight due to stormy weather, Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) board a charter plane. The plane crashes midflight and they survive the incident with injuries, but get lost in the wilderness. Ramin Djawadi wrote the score.

A score by Ramin Djawadi is always a reason to get excited as for the past few years his music has opened up in a meaningful way thanks to his work on “Game of thrones” where he had a chance to write epic, emotional, subdued, dramatic and do so for hours and hours. The main theme from “The mountain between us” is the best advertisement for this score; a sweeping piano and violin theme, both grandiose and intimate in the same time, a proper drama opening that gets emotional from the first minutes without an adjustment period. The first cue is the kind of piece that could have very well sat at the end as the dramatic climax of the movie. The horn buildup towards the end joins the rolling piano in making sure this theme will end up as one of the most memorable he has every written. Ramin’s piano work is getting more and more confident and spectacular and just one cue in, albeit the main theme, this score is already worth it.

Then comes a beautiful cello solo to seal the deal and make sure that if the first cue wasn’t enough, the second one “Don’t say anything”, which reminds me of Hillary Hahn’s work for James Newton Howard’s “The village” completes an emotional one two punch to the gut that shows why Ramin Djawadi is one of the best composers working today. If you were expecting a quieter score given the setting of the movie, think again. The music is not about where the story take place but about how it feels for the characters and there’s nothing quiet about that. The music is deep, intimate and intense. The blend of orchestral depth and scattered suspenseful motifs makes this score meaningful from start to end. And no matter what happens, when the rolling piano or the haunting cello are given the stage, the music just leaves me breathless. This is what film music is all about, this is why I love and listen to film music, to go through the emotions a score like this takes me through. The melodic bursts of energy are just perfect and would make a lot of this score worthy for a second set of concerts Ramin Djawadi could make once the “Game of thrones” tour is over.

The main piano theme that recurs very clearly in “The photograph” is one of the most beautiful romantic themes of this year. Extremely dramatic and tense moments like “Flare gun” are like a punch in the face after the warm comfort of the orchestral score so far. If you were missing the suffocating tension of some “Game of thrones” moments, you get your fix here. The story the score tells is dense and rewarding on its own and I can only imagine how affecting it feels in the context of the movie.

“The mountain between us” mirrors through music the tough emotional journey of the two characters; Ramin Djawadi raises his own personal bar even higher with a piano driven orchestral composition that will leave a mark. Every minute of this score counts and has meaning and the promises the composer made with that unforgettable main theme are kept throughout an album that was well worth the wait and that I will return to countless times. For me this is his best composition of the year, surpassing even “Game of thrones – season 7” and a triumph for a composer that keeps getting better with every score. I am grateful to be able to listen to his music.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 47 / 47

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:
The Mountain Between Us
Don’t Say Anything
I’m Sorry
Rule of Three
Finding the Cabin
I’m Scared
They Can’t Hear You
1% Of Something
Trust Your Instinct
The Photograph
Flare Gun
Little Recorder
The Mountains
Separation
Not Today
I Feel Alive
Where Is the Dog?
Just Me and You
The Heart Is Just a Muscle
Meaning of Life

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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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