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Artwork copyright (c) 1994 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Brilliant but exceptionally short score for intelligent drama


A refreshingly original film that isn't afraid to actually require an intelligent audience (wow, there's a concept), Fred Schepisi's brilliant Six Degrees of Separation, based on John Guare's play, stars the eclectic cast of Stockard Channing, Will Smith, Donald Sutherland and Ian McKellen, and sees a young black man arriving on the doorstep of a rich New York couple, professing to be a friend of their children, not to mention being the son of Sidney Poitier, and they give him a place to stay but gradually begin to unravel that his true story is far from what he proclaimed it to be.  The movie features some brilliant performances (including by far Smith's best - though whether that's saying so much, I'm not sure), though possibly doesn't work quite so well on the big screen as it did on the stage.

Schepisi turned to frequent collaborator Jerry Goldsmith for the music.  Schepisi's movies have virtually all attracted Goldsmith scores of interest, though none is particularly spectacular.  Intriguingly, Schepisi doesn't use temp-tracks and essentially lets Goldsmith just get on with his thing; unfortunately he hasn't yet made a movie which the composer has scored that let him really go out on a limb and write something outrageous, but Six Degrees of Separation is an original and refreshing score.

Goldsmith bases it around a brilliant tango as his main theme.  Unfortunately, that is essentially it - aside from two minutes of tango at the beginning and five minutes of tango at the end, Goldsmith's score consists of very brief vignettes (mostly under a minute) which generally offer variations on the main theme.  It gets a funky jazz arrangement in "Safe Trip" and a gorgeous violin solo version in "The Kiss"; but even taken together, those two tracks run for barely 90 seconds.  Things turn more sombre in "No Heart" (the 18th cue; confusingly, the finale has the same title, though the music isn't similar), a lovely and touching piece, the only one to particularly stand out aside from the opening and closing numbers.

Because Goldsmith's score is so short - less than fifteen minutes, in its entirety - the album is padded out with various other stuff: a piece of Cole Porter, an original jazz piece by Australian film composer Paul Grabowsky, a Debussy quartet and lots of dialogue, which is amusing and sharp, but not the sort of thing you will want to listen to with any frequency.  I would say that the finale piece is outstanding enough to make this a recommended release for Goldsmith fans - at least, until it finds its way onto a compilation - if you don't go in expecting any more than one truly outstanding piece and several other appealing, but inconsequential vignettes and you're unlikely to be disappointed.


  1. Ouisa and Flan (1:53)
  2. Six Degrees of Separation* (1:22)
  3. Just One of Those Things (Cole Porter) (1:06)
  4. Sidney Poitier* (1:26)
  5. Give Six (Paul Grabowsky) (2:32)
  6. Painters* (:30)
  7. There Is a God (1:30)
  8. Cats* (:51)
  9. The Teacher (1:36)
  10. Dream About Painters* (1:09)
  11. The Blade (:43)
  12. Imagination* (1:55)
  13. The Kiss (:55)
  14. Dream Sequence* (:44)
  15. Safe Trip (:45)
  16. Both Sides (:25)
  17. Do We Have a Story to Tell You* (1:24)
  18. No Heart (1:05)
  19. You're an Idiot* (:44)
  20. Not Family (:33)
  21. The Truth* (:29)
  22. Debussy: Quarter in G Minor (1:18)
  23. Listen to Me* (1:25)
  24. Just One of Those Things (Cole Porter) (:50)
  25. I Read Today* (2:21)
  26. No Heart (5:05)