Russland (Kolja Erdmann)

Final Musings: Kolja Erdmann may not be well known outside of his homeland, but his work for Russland is definitely warranting some more attention. A score of magnificent scope in its choral splendor and orchestral lyricism, listeners will be blown away by the stunning music of this score. While some may find some hints of influence from Zimmer’s score for King Arthur, this score still offers some of the best material of its year. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have not done so, make it a priority to obtain this hidden gem of 2011.

Countless nature documentary features have attempted to get the importance of environmental protection to mainstream audiences by dazzling them with the stunning beauty of planet Earth, and this is done often with great success (look to BBC’s infamous Planet Earth series or the Blue Planet). Russland is the cinematic incarnation of the series Wildes Russland (Wild Russia). The German production team definitely approached the concept with great ambition in mind, and it’s hard not to argue for their success. Spending over 3 years of filming to capture over 100, 000 miles of land within 600 hours of raw material is indeed quite a feat. They really hoped to capture all of Russia onto their film. The film’s scope is impressive with absolutely stunning imagery and an epic portrayal of Russia’s landscapes. It is interesting to note that usually nature documentaries of grand scope come along with scores of equal scope as shown by Geroge Fenton’s countless efforts for BBC productions. It is the one genre that film score fans can still count on for grand orchestral scores.

Kolja Erdmann does not fail to attest to this notion. The German composer has often scored a variety of nature features in his homeland and with this score; Erdmann seems to be giving it his all. The score is colossal in scope and surprisingly dramatic. With dark and mature tones, the music suggests an epic along the heights of big Hollywood pictures such as Gladiator or Ben-Hur (although the actual scores of these films could not be more different). In fact, the music can be so massive at times that one cannot help but think how a work as impressively dominant as this could be attuned to footage of narration over shots of nature. Russland must be an impressive documentary indeed to feature such a score. There is much to love in a production like this. It features rich themes, dynamic orchestral colours and rousing choral work to consistently keep listeners in awe. Read the rest of this entry »