Visit the Movie Wave Store | Movie Wave Home | Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer | Contact me
Exotic, flavourful album offers much that impresses, but is over-long
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * *
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Partition Films, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
A Canadian film about the disastrous British partition of India (and creation of Pakistan) in the 1940s, Partition has been very well-received, though little-seen (it hasn't even been released in most places - including the US - and no cinematic release seems to be scheduled anywhere other than Canada and Germany). The relatively brief career of Brian Tyler has already seen him score a number of films requiring an ethnic influence in their music, and Partition is clearly another of those.
While this is the type of film one might expect Mychael Danna to score (especially since it's Canadian), Tyler attacks it with a bit more sweep than Danna would have done, despite the ethnic presence - this is evident from the outset with the excellent main title, heard in rousing style in the opening track, and then in slightly more sombre fashion in "The Crossing". The first action music is heard in "Attack at the Crossing", and it is relatively bleak, acerbic stuff - impressive. This is immediately countered by the gorgeous "Naseem's Journey" featuring a gentle guitar accompaniment to the strings, with that main theme appearing again (it is heard on countless occasions through the score) but in a completely different setting.
The main theme is such a strong one - probably the most memorable Tyler has written to date - but the sheer ubiquity of its presence in this score is perhaps what drags the album down just a notch or two from where it could otherwise have risen. "Transformation of Gian" is another outstanding presentation of it - but it is only the fifth of the 26 cues on this album, and the fourth of them already to be built entirely around that theme. Therefore, despite its strength, it is quickly the case that the album makes more of an impression when the composer ditches his theme and creates one-off pieces - while the harmonic language of the theme is present in "Water", the creation of new material and first real incorporation of Indian instrumental elements is a relief.
Perhaps the score is at its finest when Tyler combines the theme with the ethnic instrumentation - such as in "Coming of Age", a piece with a real drive to it, boosted by the fine vocal solos. "Tears of Joy" is another good one, with the guitar taking centre-stage again, but by this time most listeners will probably be waiting for something fresh in the score - which thankfully appears straight away in the sitar-dominated "Bombay", a fine piece of scene-setting with a solid dramatic undercurrent. The pulsating "Rain Dance" is another beautiful highlight and ushers in a short sequence of some fine music ("Crossing the Border", "Festival of Holi") which sees Tyler skilfully incorporate the ethnic influences into his dramatic ideas, rather than just paste them in as some composers tend to. An excellent example is the powerful "Shimla", which uses the exotic orchestration to great effect.
This is all impressive music, let down only by the excessive repetition of the main theme - which I'm sure is fine on the film, but Tyler seems to be like James Horner in that he wants to squeeze as much music as physically possible onto his CDs, even if it does mean the resulting album suffers from this problem. In any case it is his finest effort since the excellent Timeline, it's probably his most mature and carefully-wrought score to date, and as such comes highly-recommended - I just wonder how much better it might have been with a little pruning here and there before being presented on album.