Home > Reviews > RESCUE DAWN – Klaus Badelt

RESCUE DAWN – Klaus Badelt

Original Review by Clark Douglas

I’ve been watching the third season of the surprisingly wonderful American version of “The Office” on DVD. Those of you who don’t know anything about the show, bear with me… I’ll talk about the music in a second. Anyway, there’s this one episode where the ever-hungry Kevin is attempting to decide whether to go to the office party where all the fun is, or the office party with brownies and cupcakes being held by the most un-fun lady in the office (named Angela). Kevin looks at the camera, and ponders aloud… “Hmm… Brownies (smile)… Angela (frown)… Brownies (smile)… Angela (frown).”

That is much like how I felt when I heard that Klaus Badelt would be scoring the latest film by one of my favorite directors, Werner Herzog. “Hmm… Herzog… Badelt… Herzog… Badelt”. However, I was foolish to wince at such a prospect, because there were a few things I had forgotten to keep in mind. Klaus Badelt worked with Herzog on “Invincible”, and co-wrote a very fine score with Hans Zimmer for that film. Werner Herzog is a man who is capable of bringing the very best out of those he works with (no one else could inspire such greatness out of the volatile Klaus Kinski). Klaus Badelt is a composer who can actually be pretty darn good when given enough inspiration (“The Promise”, “Ned Kelly”, “The Time Machine”).

Badelt stepped up to the plate a delivered a very mature and thoughtful score for Herzog’s film, one that manages to avoid most of the clichés of Hollywood war scores. Herzog has always tried to stay away from the conventional when it comes to the music in his films, and here attempts to emphasize much of the human emotion of the story… and no, that doesn’t mean mourning pieces of tragedy inspired by “Adagio for Strings”. Badelt’s “Dieter’s Theme” is one of hope in a desperate time, and he manages to sum up such emotions much better than Craig Armstrong did with his forgettable score for “World Trade Center”.

The secondary theme is arguably even better, the mysterious and somber “Journey” theme that reflectively accompanies Dieter Dengler’s travels over the course of the film. The austere performances of this theme in pieces like “Rain” rank as the highlights of the score for me. The two themes alternate throughout the score in a simple, but effective way. Badelt adds enough fresh instrumentation to keep the score from getting stale, and the album feels very heartfelt (especially in comparison to something as tired and bland as Badelt’s “Poseidon”).

The final series of cues are quite interesting… Dieter’s theme gets a sweeping orchestral statement as the score finale in “Rescue”, hitting a level of size that has been wisely withheld until that point. Then there’s a so-so song based on the journey theme called “Lights” performed by James Carrington. Then, Dieter’s theme, performed on solo piano to good effect. Finally, director Werner Herzog appears at the close of the album to offer a monologue over a performance of the journey theme. I’ll allow his words to close this review, just because I think they are worth noting.

“This is how I remember Dieter Dengler. He always struggled to describe death. The moment when he was down to 85 pounds, and had probably only one more day left to live, and death crawled up on him slowly, he had the feeling of a pulsing lightness, and time being slowed down as if in slow motion. We came up with the idea of ethereal and unreal-looking jellyfish in an aquarium. I said to Dieter, ‘This is not the whole thing… there will be music… this whole underwater world has to be transformed into music.’ He most certainly had nightmares. The tons and tons of rice, flower, honey and beans stashed away under his kitchen floor were visible proof… yet he kept his demons in check with an almost nonchalant attitude. On a mountaintop, he gazed across a wide landscape of mountains, valleys, and meadows, and he seemed to look right through my wife who was in front of him. She asked him, ‘Do you ever have any nightmares?’ He said, ‘Honey,’ and he looked deeper into the distance… ‘Honey, all this stuff in Laos was just the fun part of my life.’ He was fascinated by a tattoo parlor. He pondered over the question of whether he should have a tattoo over his chest of a huge gate opening in the sky, and furious horses galloping out, and the coachman whipping them madly, a vision he repeatedly had had. I said, ‘Was it death whipping the horses?’ ‘No!’, he almost shouted at me, ‘it was an angel.’ This is how I remember him best. That was him.”

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Dieter’s Theme (3:00)
  • Journey (1:22)
  • Hope (5:28)
  • Sign This (1:33)
  • Gathering Rice (1:48)
  • The Plan (2:24)
  • After the Fire (1:56)
  • Rain (2:58)
  • Operation Rescue Dawn (2:43)
  • It’s Him (4:07)
  • Keep Your Head Down (0:54)
  • America Gave Me Wings (1:58)
  • Mirror (1:46)
  • Sleepwalkers (2:42)
  • Rescue (4:45)
  • Lights (Rescue Dawn Version) (4:20)
  • Dieter’s Theme Reprise (1:49)
  • This Is How I Remember Him (dialogue performed by Werner Herzog) (2:35)

Running Time: 48 minutes 08 seconds

Milan 36285-2 (2007)

Music composed by Klaus Badelt. Conducted by Andy Brown. Orchestrations by Robert Elhai, Ian Honeyman and Andrew Raiher. Recorded and mixed by Nick Wollage, Andrew McLaughlin and Stephen Krause. Album produced by Klaus Badelt and Christopher Brooks.

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  1. December 10, 2012 at 4:38 am

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