MIENTRAS DURE LA GUERRA (WHILE AT WAR) is set in the July of 1936 and in Salamanca, Castilla and León, the Spanish army declares a state of war, their ultimate hope is that the war will spread from there into the rest of Spain. Miguel de Unamuno is an ageing, writer and academic teacher and is recognised and respected as one of the most revered intellectuals in Spain. He is angry and disappointed with the ways of the Republic that he helped to create, and thus begins to support a new revolution in the hope that Spain will be cleansed of undesirable elements that have taken over in the corridors of power. Directed by Alejandro Amenabar, (THE OTHERS, TESIS, REGRESSION etc) who also wrote the story and acted as producer and composer on the movie, this is a gripping and well-made movie that purveys a visually stunning account of the Spanish civil war. The score is breathtakingly beautiful, the composer has a wonderfully light and delicate touch when it comes to creating emotive and poignant musical moments, he utilises the string section to its maximum capacity and also enlists solo guitar, woods and percussion throughout to fashion a score that is suitably inspiring and patriotic in its overall sound and style. This is a score that I know will be returned to a number of times, because although it maybe simple it is haunting and appealing. New scores are so often non-thematic and drone like, this is however the opposite and is rich with heartrending themes, lush sounding romanticism and filled with at times driving and powerfully dramatic musical passages. But above all this luxurious and melodious work is entertaining both within the context of the movie and away from the images it was written to enhance. It is a rather small scale score relatively speaking, piano, woods and strings feature throughout and are the main core sound of the work, the composer adding percussive elements and martial sounding passages along the way that are embellished by subtle but at the same time commanding brass flourishes. I think my favourite cue is ESPANA, this is a combination of guitar and woodwind initially, but strings are brought into the equation, at first slowly and lightly, but soon begin to swell and build to create and establish their own theme, to which the guitar and woodwind bow, and themselves become support. The strings continue to grow and bring forth a beautifully lush and romantic sounding theme, but this is short lived and evaporates as soon as it has developed with the track again returning to just woods and guitar that purvey a sense of intimacy and emotion. This is a really worthy soundtrack, and one that MMI recommends.

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