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Soundtrack Review

Cover Image

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: Toru Takemitsu
Conductor: Hiroyuki Iwaki
Performed by: Sapporo Symphony Orchestra
Label: Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
SILCD1518 (CD), SILED1518 (download), SILLP1518 (vinyl)
Release Date: 30 September 2016 (CD & digital), 14 October 2016 (vinyl)

Silva Screen Records release Toru Takemitsu’s haunting score to Akiro Kurosawa’s last epic film, Visually stunning, Ran was Kurosawa's last epic and his last great masterpiece. At the same time delicate and violent, the Japanese director’s feudal warlord story is bleak, brutal and breathtaking. The story is based on legends of the daimyo Mori Motonari, and draws parallels with Shakespeare’s King Lear...

The main title for Ran draws on Takemitsu’s exploration of traditional Japanese music. It features a high-pitched, repeating motif in the strings that resembles the musical gestures of shinobue (a Japanese flute used in noh and kabuki theater). The figure repeats several times in a circular manner and Takemitsu’s nod to traditional music continues throughout the score, as the shinobue itself becomes a central part of the soundtrack delicately balancing its timbre with the large orchestra. Most of the cues are brief and sparsely scored, a nod to Japanese visual art, placing vast white spaces between intricately drawn details.

The album contains 16 tracks (1 hr, 12 min, 09 sec) with the majority of the score's most notable themes been housed in the first two tracks: 'Ran Suite - Part 1' (17 min, 01 sec) and 'Ran Suite - Part 2' (15 min, 29 sec). There's an interesting mix of styles ranging from traditional Japanese music to more western movie scores.

'Hell's Picture Scroll' (which is also echoed in 'Ending Credits') reminded me of Trevor Jones's score for Dark Crystal, in particular 'The Dark Crystal Overture'. It's not the themes so much, as the way the music is presented.

This is an incredibly beautiful and memorable score. There are so many interesting themes here that it's one album you'll appreciate more the more times you listen to it.


Darren Rea

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