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A Show of Force
  • Composed by Georges Delerue

A political thriller directed by Bruce Barreto, A Show of Force is loosely based on real events and follows a journalist investigating the death of a couple of political activists in Puerto Rico. The government claimed they were radical terrorists – others took a different view. Amy Irving stars alongside Andy Garcia and Lou Diamond Philips with support from Robert Duvall and Kevin Spacey – quite the cast – but the film didn’t make much of a box office impression at the time (grossing about $150,000 – which today would barely get you a large popcorn and a drink).

Georges Delerue’s colourful score combines some Hispanic flavours with traditional drama and – it goes without saying – a couple of stunning themes. The first of these is revealed fully in the “Prologue”, whose subtle opening offers little hint of the gorgeous guitar theme which emerges – full of melancholy and a sense of yearning, it’s classic Delerue. The melancholy is on hand a few times as the score goes forward – the John Barry-like “Flashback” features a haunting harmonica solo over the strings, and later “Testimony” is stirringly moving thanks to the addition of a violin solo.

Georges Delerue

Delerue uses percussion to add the ethnic flavour, with a bossa nova feel – interestingly in “Show of Force” the music is really anything but – after a few bars of percussion the score’s second main theme is heard as solo flute is introduced on top – it’s a vintage Delerue floating melody, quite exquisite – and two performances of it sandwich a fairly gentle tango.

Of course, this is one Delerue score that cannot be all sweetness and light, and there’s some very effective drama and at times suspense material – the atmosphere created by the chilling (slightly Herrmannesque) strings of “Final Flashback” is particularly nerve-wracking. “Courtroom Photographs” is more mournful, with some very powerful emotions being stirred by the composer’s impassioned style – somehow he could make beauty in any situation – and the following track “Remembrance”, while more subtle in its emotional manipulation, also packs a punch.

The 35-minute album is strong throughout, presenting some powerful dramatic moments as well as the composer’s celebrated ability to speak musically from within the characters – but you just know that it’s going to end with a rapturous finale (Delerue just couldn’t resist those) and that’s precisely what happens in the brilliant end title piece, where he turns his main themes into something hugely warm and optimistic. A Show of Force is a fine score, the album obviously recommended to all Delerue fans.

Rating: **** | |

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