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Soundtrack review: 7 days in Entebbe (Rodrigo Amarante – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: 7 days in Entebbe (Rodrigo Amarante – 2018)

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Entebbe (titled 7 Days in Entebbe in the U.S.) is a 2018 crime thriller film directed by José Padilha and written by Gregory Burke. The film recounts the story of Operation Entebbe, a 1976 counter-terrorist hostage-rescue operation. The film stars Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl. In 1976, two Palestinian and two German terrorists hijacked Air France Flight 139 en route from Tel Aviv, Israel to Paris, France via Athens, Greece. They held the passengers and crew hostage at Entebbe and demanded a ransom of $5 million for the airplane and the release of 53 Palestinian and pro-Palestinian militants, 40 of whom were prisoners in Israel. When all diplomatic efforts failed, the Israeli government approved a counter-terrorist hostage rescue operation by IDF commandos. Rodrigo Amarante wrote the score.

The cue opens with a sort of elegy I imagine as “Looking back” uses sombre strings to evoke dramatic times, or better said, a dramatic conclusion. Naturally the tone changes for “Boarding” as drama turns to thriller. It is not your generic dark thriller sound that I dislike so much as Rodrigo Amarante uses sometimes unusual ethnic instrument sounds to build his tension. I am happy to discover almost Nick Cave like pulled string sounds in “Ms. Martel escapes”; it’s just a short motif at the beginning before the intriguing electronic sound returns but it was enough to catch my attention. There are a lot of sounds that mimic wood and often I get the feeling this story takes place in a jungle.

The composer navigates between these two moods, the tense one and the more dramatic orchestral one that appears clearly in “A purpose”; the music is still minimalistic but the tone shifts from suspenseful to more melodic. I am having mixed feelings about this score; I listen to a cue like “Innocence lost” which sounds almost psychedelic and I like the ambient vibe and how it slithers, gripping me tighter and tighter.

The music is purely textural as there are barely any motifs or themes in it; the composer chose to make his score the base for what happens on screen so as a standalone listening experience, “7 days in Entebbe” is a bit lacking. Fortunately though the music is slightly experimental and it’s interesting to listen to because, like I said, the dreaded dark thriller electronic sound is avoided. Sometimes the music is too quiet, too minimal to matter on its own. I am sure that in the context of the movie the score works just as it should as the intensely nervy tones make the tension seem palpable and, at times, unbearable. The string instruments, sometimes plucked, other times barely touched, make me think of mysterious Africa so Rodrigo Amarante does a good job of dealing with the location of the story as well.

An unusual composition, “7 days in Entebbe” made for an interesting enough one time listen on its own. I enjoyed most the hallucinatory like moments when the music got the blurriest, like “Prime minister and the news”.

Cue rating: 65 / 100

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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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