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BEYOND THE GATES
Tragic, haunting music for moving, shocking true story
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2005 Kivu Films Ltd.; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
The shocking events of the Rwandan genocide are amongst the most shameful in recent history, and two recent films have achieved acclaim for their accounts of them. First was Hotel Rwanda; followed a year later in 2005 by Beyond the Gates (known outside the US as Shooting Dogs), directed by Michael Caton-Jones. It stars John Hurt as a Catholic priest caught up in the unfolding events, and follows his personal efforts to protect as many people as possible.
The excellent score was provided by Dario Marianelli, just before he first achieved real international attention for Pride and Prejudice. The central idea is a wordless female vocal (performed with passion by Rwandan singer Cecile Kayirebwa), designed to add a dignified connection between the mothers in the film willing to do anything to protect their children, and the audience. It works beautifully, whether set against a slightly awkward, agitated backdrop or a more serene one for the film's more inspirational moments.
Marianelli's detached approach is probably the only one which would really have worked here; a more visceral score (which most composers would probably have favoured) would have threatened to overwhelm the audience when combined with the already-harrowing visuals, but instead this music is largely content to allow the pictures to speak for themselves, appearing only when the human aspect can be enhanced. The gentle accompaniment of pieces like "The Radio Won't Stop" is profoundly moving in its own way, with Marianelli only occasionally venturing into a more direct expression of terror. Perhaps the finest example of that is "No Way Out", with Kayirebwa's vocals accompanied by dissonant brass and percussion as well as the haunting strings from elsewhere in the score - it's a powerful, impressive moment.
Perhaps the finest piece is the magnificent "Remember Us", harrowing and deeply affecting - a skillful and impressive example of Marianelli's burgeoning skills. This is a highly-accomplished score and album, boosted by three choral source tracks which add to the overall experience; it's moving, sometimes harrowing, sometimes beautiful and strangely uplifting - a very fine score from one of the finest young film composers. Highly-recommended.