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Artwork copyright (c) 2003 Channel One of Russia; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Colourful score for Russian drama


Proving once again that he's willing to work on just about any kind of project (apart from Hollywood blockbusters!), Ennio Morricone scored the Russian tv movie 72 Metra about a submarine crew trapped (guess what) 72 metres below the surface of the ocean.  Its parallels with the Kursk tragedy seem to have been what inspired the composer to take on the project, and he dedicates his music to those trapped in that real-life disaster.  The film doesn't seem to have been released outside Russia so Morricone fans are left with their typical dilemma over whether or not to buy the music for a movie they have never seen and in all probability will never see.

That dilemma is made all the more difficult in this case because the album is pretty hard to come by.  Apparently it was only ever released in Russia, meaning non-Russian fans need to rely on imports.  At the time of writing this there's limited availability from Amazon at the link below, but I doubt these will be around for long!  So, the important question to ask is whether it's actually worth the effort or not!?  Well, for a classic Morricone score (which the subject matter might just have inspired) clearly the answer would be a definite affirmative, but 72 Metra could never be called a classic Morricone score.  What it is, is a piece of music which at times is extremely impressive and moving, but regularly sounds like a patchwork quilt of previous efforts by the composer of 500 previous film scores.

Unusually, the score is split into a "symphony" of just four tracks (covering over 40 minutes between them), though in reality each "movement" is a collection of individual cues from the score stuck together.  The first, "The Grief of Parting", is a series of variations on the beautiful main theme, moving as one may expect, though never quite pushing itself into the pantheon of truly heartbreaking Morricone melodies - for a frame of reference, I suppose it reminds one of What Dreams May Come's rejected score (a masterpiece) though never becomes quite so emotional or sweeping.  A series of viola solos by regular Morricone collaborator Fausto Anzelmo certainly adds an extra flavour and an extra emotion, though.  Next comes "The Diving in the Sea", which is action/suspense music done in typical style, instantly bringing to mind Bulworth and others.  It's effective and the composer's use of a percussion figure to imitate Morse Code (which he did previously in The Red Tent) is ingenious.  It's rather uncompromising, powerful material, quite dissonant, but more listenable than some of Morricone's previous, similar efforts.

The oddly-titled "The Final - The Sun Again" (I suspect something has been lost in the translation, there) sees a return to the more melodic material of the opening, with the theme this time being slightly more tear-jerking due to a change in arrangement, and actually ending up sounding vaguely "Hollywood" (believe it or not) with a sweeping string rendition - I'm sure it will be the track which will stick the longest in most listeners' memories.  Finally, there is a brief coda "The Conclusion" with a sensitive viola and piano version of the main theme.  As I said above, this is no classic, and somehow it seems slightly less than the sum of its parts, but it's still fine music, arranged well into an album, and will surely please all Morricone fans.

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  1. The Grief of Parting (12:40)
  2. The Diving in the Sea (17:54)
  3. The Final - The Sun Again (8:35)
  4. The Conclusion (1:54)