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Soundtrack review: She (Stelvio Cipriani – 2001)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: She (Stelvio Cipriani – 2001)


“SHE (SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED)” an Italo-German coproduction from 2001 and based on one of H. Rider Haggard’s novels.  The film starred Ophélie Winter, Ian Duncan,Marie Bäumer,Martina Colombari and Christoph Waltz. The story is a first-person narrative that follows the journey of Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey to a lost kingdom in the African interior. There they encounter a primitive race of natives and a mysterious white queen named Ayesha who reigns as the all-powerful “She”, or “She-who-must-be-obeyed”. In this work, Rider Haggard developed the conventions of the Lost World subgenre, which many later authors emulated. The score was written by Stelvio Cipriani.
I think next to Morricone, Cipriani is the Italian composer I get most excites about. I can’t say it enough how the Italian school of film music is my favorite because nobody writes romance like them. “La musica soave”, the title of the opening cue from “She” is the perfect characterization of the music. it doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes to lure me into a score that could very well be heard in the Golden Age of film music.
There’s a lot of nostalgia for me in this score, from the Italian Romance to the eerie atmospheric sound of “Vittoriana”. I love taking this musical journey and I love discovering yet another work of this wonderful composer. I might as well start a website dedicated only to Italian composers. Cipriani plays with various influences, from Victorian to Arabic. The music doesn’t settle in a comfort zone but instead travels over space and time. It goes epic with pieces like “I geroglifici” without losing the wonderful melodic line that warms my heart and it gets orchestral frantic with cues like “Il sacerdote del tempio”.
Precious and enjoyable like and old book that caries the stamp of old times, “She” is a rare score in today’s film music world. We need labels like Kronos Records to unearth treasures like this and open our years to a kind of music that’s unique and rewarding. I just close my eyes when I hear “ Samarcanda” which could feature on any John Barry Bond score or when the flute of “La montagna de la luna” hypnotizes me. Everywhere I look in this score I find a soft spot of mine and I can’t wait to have the CD. This is the perfect journey score and I invite you to take it.

Cue rating: 96 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 34 / 44
Album excellence: 77%

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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