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Thursday, January 31, 2008

March of the Penguins - Alex Wurman

The one background score that just blew me mind in the recent times is that of the documentary film ‘March of the Penguins’. The score by Alex Wurman is undoubtedly a masterpiece. When I first rented the DVD of this documentary, the least I expected out of it is music. I thought it would be just a raw documentary on the survival of Penguins. But what I got was a full length emotional journey through the lives of Penguins and their struggles to survive in one of the harshest place on earth. What could have just been an infotainment turned into an extremely satisfying emotional journey and that is not just because of the stunning cinematography and the narration but also because of the brilliant, beautiful and intimate score of Alex Wurman. In synch with the tradition of movie scores, Alex has written a soothing main theme which is used in all vital moments on various instruments and different backing arrangements.

I always care for precision of a score to the variations in the mood and emotions in the visuals. I feel that big orchestras fail to bring in that precision in movies of such kind where emotion is focused so close so that you as an audience inhale what the characters onscreen exhale. What Alex Wurman got right in this score is this precision. He has not used a big orchestra. He has used woodwinds, piano, strings and mild synth throughout and has harmonized them in a way that is just adequate enough to aurally recreate the stunning vastness of the icescapes and also sing the intimate melody in Penguins lives. For those who have seen the documentary, this soundtrack is a must have in your collection and even if you haven’t seen it, this is a beautiful soundtrack with music that will sooth your mind and bring in enormous relaxation.

Here I am going to post 4 pieces from the soundtrack and also list four situations/track names from the movie. I invite you to match the pieces and the situations/track names, based on the feel, mood and emotion you sense after hearing the piece. Also if possible, give me the reason, or what exactly made you feel that a particular piece matches with the particular situation you chose. I hope this will be an interesting exercise.

1. The Harshest place on Earth (This piece is kind of an introduction to the harshness of the place in which Penguins strive hard to survive)
2. The March (The scene in which Penguins start marching to a safer place with harder ice surface for mating)
3. Found Love (Penguins love making scene)
4. First Steps (When the new born Penguin starts to walk)



Karthik said...

a - 1 - Harsh Place - Looked more like an introduction piece which cannot fit in any of the other scenes
b - 2 - March - Gives a feel of penguins tapping their feet.
c - 3 - Found Love - The instruments are used very mildly here
d - 4 - First Steps - There is some kind of joy, joy of a new born taking first step. This piece has some foot tapping feel.

I saw the movie almost an year back. I am little surprised after hearing to the pieces now.
Really a masterpiece. Let's see how much I get correct.

Naren said...

very nice review! never seen the movie but now i am intrigued. wondering if you have ever seen Shawshank redemption. stunning movie with haunting movie score by thomas newman. check it out if you have acesss to it.

P.S. Suresh Kumar said...

Karthik - You have got everything right. Great job.

Naren - Thanks. Somehow i keep missing Sashwank redemption. Will watch it this weekend.