Home > Reviews > JOURNEY FROM THE FALL – Christopher Wong

JOURNEY FROM THE FALL – Christopher Wong

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Mikael Carlsson’s groundbreaking record label Movie Score Media has been responsible for releasing some hidden musical gems over the last couple of years, but Christopher Wong’s score for the Oriental drama Journey From the Fall is one of the best. The film, which was directed by Ham Tran, tells the story of a Vietnamese family who, thirteen years after the end of the American involvement in the conflict there, still cope with the repercussions of the war on their every day lives. Eventually the family uproots from their spiritual home and moves to America, only to find that life in the new world is no less difficult.

Wong, a former student of Jerry Goldsmith, is clearly a man with a lot of talent, and a clear mastery of his ensemble. Journey from the Fall is a lush, thematic score for a full orchestra and various Asian soloists, Wong’s score captures perfectly that indescribable marriage between East and West that so often in music ends up being pastiche rather than authentic.

Solo performances characterize much of Wong’s music, from the poignant clarinets in “Fraternity” and “Finding Letters” and the forlorn piano/orchestra combo in “Drifting in the Rain”, to the solo keyboard in “Family Photos”, the gentle acoustic guitars in “The Promise”, the breathy ethnic woodwinds in “Life in the Camp” and “Take the Family”, the more contemporary acoustic guitars in “Mai’s Decision”, and the traditional dan tranh Vietnamese zither, which lends its unique, twangy texture to a number of cues – notably “Packing Up” – giving the score a pleasing geographic specificity.

The general mood of the score is one of sorrowful reflection and introspection, but this is not to say that the music is depressing; on the contrary, such is the beauty and delicacy of Wong’s orchestrations that one easily becomes enraptured in the thing. Once in a while Wong allows his orchestra to do something a little unusual – experience the unsettling rumblings and strident ethnic percussion of “The Escape” for example – but for the most part, Journey From the Fall is an exercise in tasteful, lyrical beauty. The final 7-minute cue is simply spellbinding.

Also included on the limited edition soundtrack CD is one cue from Wong’s score for the 2003 short film “The Anniversary”, and a 16-minute suite of cues from the 2003 feature drama “First Morning”.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • Legend of Le Loi (2.50)
  • The Night Market (1.30)
  • Fraternity (1.07)
  • The Escape (1.48)
  • Drifting in the Rain (2.22)
  • Family Photos (1.13)
  • The Promise (1.08)
  • Packing Up (1.21)
  • Life in the Camp (1.27)
  • The Long Voyage (1.27)
  • Finding Letters (1.58)
  • Take the Family (1.00)
  • Mai’s Decision (1.10)
  • Holding Hands (0.58)
  • A New Beginning (1.23)
  • Journey from the Fall (7.54)
  • Music from ‘The Anniversary’ (2:36)
  • Music from ‘First Morning’ (16:03)

Running Time: 49 minutes 07 seconds

MovieScore Media MMS-07015 (2007)

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