Pompei (Marco Frisina)

Final Musings: Relatively unknown composer, Marco Frisina delievers a hidden gem. With a beautiful theme along the lines of Rózsa’s romantic work, this score will sell to all lovers of harmonic and melodramatic beauty. Although keep in mind, you will not find ambitious action music or any glorified heroic music here. It may not have the ethnic flair or the epic scope of its superior predecessors in the genre, but the thematic beauty of this score alone will make this a solid score to enjoy.

It’s clear that the legacy of Mt. Vesuvius has left its mark on human civilization. After all, who doesn’t love a good disaster story? Accordingly, the infamous tale of the brutal destruction of Pompeii, Italy (caused by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius), has spawned a vast amount of incarnations in film, literature and music. Amongst the lesser-known cinematic takes on these is the 2007 Italian miniseries, Pompei. The story covers a man who comes back to find his wife sold to slavery only to be followed by the mysterious murder of her master. The protagonist must figure out the true murderer and the unveiling conspiracy in order to save his wife while Vesuvius promptly prepares to explode. The show was not received as well as one would assume, but this largely obscure adaption does present a delightful gem of a score. Read the rest of this entry »


Agora (Dario Marianelli)

Final Musings: Dario Marianelli delivers his finest score and arguably the best of 2009. The extraordinary scope of this textural epic is evident in its rousing orchestral and choral force. The diversity of the score in its ethnic instrumentation is commendable. And praise must be given for the technical aspects of the score that so brilliantly aid the film in conveying its many complex messages. It may not appeal to listeners looking for easily recognizable themes, but this score needs time to grown on you (as all great scores do). A marvelous feat for any composer. 

In 2009, Alejandro Amenabar’s historical epic, Agora, was let loose on the world. Due to its controversial nature however, much of North America did not have the opportunity to experience it (those who did, benefited from its limited release in the US). A shame, as the film is a unique and intellectual venture into the genre of ‘toga movies’. Historically, the film covers the fall of classical antiquity, the Christianization of the Roman Empire and the destruction of the great library of Alexandria. However, the film largely expands upon the life of the brilliant female philosopher and astronomer, Hypatia. The film’s plot follows Hypatia’s discovery of the elliptical shape of our orbits, the life of her former slave Davus along with Hypatia’s disciples and the religious turmoil that the philosopher caused with her theories that unfortunately led to her death by a mob (although this is portrayed differently for dramatic effect in film). By utilizing these great historical events and the beautiful landscape of the ancient city of Alexandria, Amenabar makes powerful statements about the dangers of religious conflict, the relationship between faith and science and importance of furthering scientific ventures. It altogether creates a great film with excellent actors (primarily Rachel Weisz), beautiful cinematography, grand sets and intellectual depth. The use of extensive symbolism throughout the novel carries the viewers along with Hypatia’s journey into the realization of the wonders of the universe. One must commend the film in its epic scope and attempt to cover these many intellectual statements effectively. The film however, was met with mixed reactions due to its historical inaccuracies and its negative yet clearly controversial portrayal of Christians. Moreover, the many concepts were not tied together as well as it could have been thus resulting in a lack of cohesiveness in the film. Regardless, a great film with this kind of scope needed a powerful musical atmosphere to guide the viewers on the emotional journey. And on all accounts, Marianelli delivers with an extraordinary score that is arguably his best yet. Read the rest of this entry »