Imagine a place that is untouched, untamed, unforgiving, and vast where some of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles take place daily. The Arctic National Wildlife refuge is situated in the north-east corner of the American State of Alaska and is said to be the wildest place left in North America. A symbol of wilderness and unspoilt land for the world to gaze at in astonishment. No one has truly ever seen it and never witnessed the miracles of nature that take place there. The Arctic: Our Last Great Wilderness will feature the first-ever cinematic account of this little-known place where people can experience a world untouched by time and unpolluted by man. This is a riveting documentary that is filled with wonderous sights and events that are rarely seen or spoken of.

Alex Heffes

The music for the film is by composer Alex Heffes and it is a richly thematic and haunting work, that not only supports the incredible photography and the many events that the cameramen and women have captured but also acts as an enriching and vital element of the film making process. Heffes is probably one of the most talented composers working in film and TV at this moment in time and he is easily able to adapt and tailor his musical style to each and every genre of movie that he works on.

Born in 1971 in Beaconsfield Buckinghamshire England, the composer has written numerous film scores and applied his talent to scoring just as many TV productions including several documentaries. His score for The Artic: Our Last Great Wilderness is available from Lakeshore records and is currently streaming on several digital platforms. It is a emotive and affecting work and perfectly enhances the film and its many scenarios. The composer utilising booth electronic and symphonic to create a soundtrack that is mesmerizing and wonderfully melodic.

From a documentary to a horror move Malignant, which has a extremely atmospheric score by Joseph Bishara, now I have always thought that this is a composer who is at times underrated, many saying he has been labelled as a composer of horror scores, but if this is the case, then he is one of the most accomplished composers within the horror score fraternity of Maestro.s. This recent work from him I think is one that has many attributes, it has imaginative and inventive orchestration and also there is a greater and more affecting musical persona to this than some of his other work for film such as The Conjuring etc. Malignant is a vibrant and innovative soundtrack, and one that at times does dip into a Herrmanesque style, with dark shadowy strings rising from the depths, but all the time we still hear the originality of Bishara, shining through. Icy and sinewy strings, dark and foreboding piano, percussive elements, and voice all are put into the mix, but even though at times the music is uneasy and unsettling it still has to it a thematic style. It is a score that is worth listening to and available on digital platforms. 

Directed by Eskil Vogt, The Innocents is a drama, horror, and thriller which focuses upon a bright Nordic Summer, and a group of children who when adults are not around reveal their mysterious and dark powers. Turning playtime into something that is sinister and foreboding. Music is courtesy of Pessi Levanto who has fashioned an affecting and unsettling musical score for the movie, The soundtrack is available from Movie Score Media and also on digital platforms. A subtle but effective work, that is in no way grandiose or rich in thematic properties, but nevertheless is an interesting score, I recommend that you take a listen.

A while ago I heard a preview of Hans Zimmer’s score for Dune, a much-anticipated soundtrack. I did think that the cue that was released to give us a taster Pauls Dream was quite interesting, but the first of what looks like to be a handful of soundtrack releases has hit digital platforms this weekend, and I can only say, well what can I say, ok, lets be diplomatic here shall we, its ummm, disappointing to say the least, where does Zimmer get his ideas its just so off the wall, its not music its sounds for the majority of the running time, but lets not forget that this is The Dune Sketchbook, whatever that means and if I missed something please do tell me. So, it’s one I won’t be adding to my collection any time soon, I have given this composer so many chances and nearly every time I have been disappointed. So maybe lets just move on from the so-called saviour of film music (according to his fans-who have probably never heard of Korngold, Steiner, or Newman) to something that has melodies, vibrant compositions and beautiful tone poems.

Cinderella, the Amazon Original Movie, which has music yes real music by Mychael Danna and Jessica Weiss and what sweet music it is as well, it has enchanting themes and romantic sounding interludes that are fitting for a tale filled with magic and emotion. This is a sparkling collection of dramatic, romantic, and poignant compositions which are interspersed with upbeat and entertaining pieces, and one that I listened too three times because I enjoyed it so much.

Ok, the music can be a little on the syrupy side at times filled with melancholy and heart-bursting emotive themes, but that’s what it’s all about isn’t it, a fairy tale given a reboot with a score that enhances and perfectly underlines and punctuates the storyline, with its ingratiating and touching style and sound. Go listen its wonderous and whilst there check out Danna’s contributions to the movie Onwards which is another great listen.

What if-Doctor Strange Lost His Heart not his Hands? has been released and is part four of this already popular series, music again is from Laura Karpman and is once again filled with energy and a vibrancy that is totally infectious and consuming, please do check it out, there will be a few more of these soundtracks coming from September through till October, so keep a look out on digital platforms and here on MMI for news. 

Based on the ground-breaking best-selling book by Rhonda Byrne, The Secret: Dare to Dream (2020) follows Miranda played by Katie Holmes, who is a young widow trying to make ends meet while raising her three children and dating her boyfriend (Jerry O’Connell). A devastating storm brings an enormous challenge and a mysterious man, Bray portrayed by Josh Lucas, into Miranda’s life. Bray reignites the family’s spirit but, unbeknown to Miranda, also holds an important secret – one that will ultimately change everything. With its timeless messages of hope, compassion, and gratitude, The Secret: Dare to Dream is an inspiring and heart-warming film that shows how positive thoughts can sometimes transform our lives.

The touching musical score is by British composer George Fenton, who has written a beautifully supportive and beguiling soundtrack. It is a work filled with delicate airs and mesmerizing interludes that are overflowing with fragility that weave in and out of the storyline never overpowering but always adding, a softness, colour, poignancy, and emotion to the proceedings as his music did in movies such as Ever AfterA Cinderella Story and Shadowlands. Recommended. 

Whilst we are discussing George Fenton, cast your mind back if you will to the latter part of the 1980’s and to 1988 when the composer wrote the score for the Stephen Frears movie Dangerous Liaisons, a tale of romance and sexual intrigue set in 18th Century France. Where the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont play a dangerous game of seduction. Valmont is someone who measures success by the number of his conquests and Merteuil challenges him to seduce the soon to be married Cecile de Volanges and provide proof in writing of his success. His reward for doing so will be to spend the night with Merteuil. He has little difficulty seducing Cecile but what he really wants is to seduce Madame de Tourvel.

When Merteuil learns that he has fallen in love with her, she refuses to let him claim his reward for seducing Cecile. Fenton’s beautiful score is filled with gorgeous themes and overflowing with an  opulent atmosphere that encompasses both the  dark, and decadent that is also portrayed within the movie, it is I sadly think a score by the composer that is often forgotten as many seem to think that the soundtrack is made up of classical music from the period, however the composer fashioned a score in this style to enhance and support the various scenarios that were unfolding on screen.

The impressive cast included Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer and Keanu Reeves, Peter Capaldi and Uma Thurman. An impressive piece of cinema and a score that should be savoured more often to be fully appreciated.

 The same can also be said about another Fenton score, this time from 1984, The Company of Wolves, is an impressive movie directed by Neil Jordan, Fenton’s music is an integral and important part of the filmmaking process with his beautiful but richly dark and foreboding opening theme being in my opinion one of the composer’s best for a movie. The opening cue on the soundtrack release featuring The Message which is underlined and enhanced by Fenton’s atmospheric score.

Little girls, this seems to say. Never stop upon your way. Never trust a stranger friend.  No-one knows how it will end.  As you’re pretty, so be wise Wolves may lurk in every guise.  Now as then, ’tis simple truth.  Sweetest tongue has sharpest tooth.

The score is a fusion of symphonic and electronic, the composer mixing the two mediums to great effect to create an outstandingly atmospheric work. Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) is a teenager, living in a country house in England with her family in the 1980’s,but is having reoccurring nightmares about wolves and werewolves in the Middle Ages. In her dream, her boring sister is dead and she lives with her father and her mother, but she spends lots of time with her lovely grandmother. Granny (Angela Lansbury) tells her many stories of werewolves and gives her the following advice: “- Never stray from the path in the woods, never eat a windfall apple, and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet.” One day Rosaleen while going to visit her grandmother, meets a handsome man and has a bet with him on who will arrive first at her granny’s house.

But soon things take a sinister twist in this modern day fairy-tale based upon Little Red Riding Hood. Listening to Fenton’s score recently I believe this is one of his most accomplished and ranks as one of his finest even now, it encompasses so many styles within its perimeters, dramatic, romantic, grandiose, and unsettling. Listen to the cue Liberation, which is a composition that encompasses all of these. At times the work can be a complex one, but it is still filled with thematic properties that become haunting in a good way. If you by any chance have not heard this it’s time that you did, available like Dangerous Liaisons on digital platforms, as are a few of Fenton’s scores such as, Cry Freedom, High Spirits, You Got Mail, The Crucible, 84 Charring Cross Road, Ever After, Final Analysis, We’re No Angels, Mary Reilly, Anna, and the King , the often overlooked The Fisher King, and so many more. Have a George Fenton day, why not?  

Also worth mentioning is the Caldera records release of another film score by Zbigniew Preisner this time it being the affecting soundtrack for Man of God, with the amazing vocal talents of Lisa Gerrard. Nick Foster’s atmospheric and touching score for Misha and the Wolves, which is superb. Joel P West’s pulsating and relentless music for the Marvel Studios production Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings which is a new score but has its roots in the silver age.

  Surviving 9/11 has an atmospheric and subtle soundtrack by composer Jon Opstad, which enhances and supports without being intrusive or overpowering, and has to it a melancholy and sorrowful persona which is given weight by a mournful but affecting cello performance that at times is mesmerizing and emotive.

Nico Muhly has penned an interest if not rather understated score for the movie Worth, its subtle and slight sounding themes being rewarding and interesting. To the small screen for the next release from the BBC series Baptiste, which boasts a riveting and robust sounding score from composer Dominik Scherrer, the tense and uneasy sounding score is a mix of music, musical sounds and soundscape and within the context of the series worked admirably, away from the images and storylines it is I have to say a little hard to listen to but this is TV/Film music, and does its job well, augmenting, punctuating and underlining.

Take a listen enjoy the tension and soak up the dark and shadowy atmospheres. Also released is the eloquent and pastoral sounding music for Private Peaceful by Rachel Portman and the more contemporary sounding score for EST by Davide Caprelli, both soundtracks available now on Kronos Records.

The latter title is an innovative work with the composer combining synthetics with female voice at key points within the score, creating a Morricone-esque sound, there is also effective use of solo piano and layered strings throughout that create lilting and haunting themes. Combine this with upbeat tracks and more modern sounding pieces and we have a soundtrack here for everyone. Certainly, worth a listen for its inventiveness and originality.

Caprelli has also released his music for I Sogni Sospesi, on digital platforms, which is another wonderfully thematic work, again the composer turning to solo piano to weave delicate musical poems into the fabric of the score. The composer combines the melodic with the tense and the unsettling via use of electronics alongside conventional instrumentation, which is striking and effective.  

The first time I heard the music of Kathryn Bostic was from the movie Clemency which was around 2019, her latest work is from the movie Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir, which contains a score that is fragile and melodic, piano led the soundtrack is pleasing and a rewarding listen, well worth taking the time to hear this, available on digital platforms. That’s all for this time see you soon.