Home > Reviews > O JERUSALEM – Stephen Endelman

O JERUSALEM – Stephen Endelman

October 19, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

An ambitious, expansive drama about the creation of the modern Israeli nation in 1948, O Jerusalem attempts to condense decades of political turmoil, ethnic tension and social upheaval into a workable feature movie by using it as a backdrop for an allegorical tale of two American friends – one Jewish, one Arab – whose lives are forever altered by the political ramifications of the time. Directed by Elie Chouraqui and starring JJ Field, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ian Holm as Ben Gurion, and Tovah Feldshuh as Golda Meir, the film somewhat surprisingly slipped below the cinematic radar, despite its talented cast and important subject matter.

Equally overlooked was Stephen Endelman’s original score, which is well worth discovering. Endelman’s career has never really taken off the way people expected, despite the popularity of titles such as The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain and The Proposition; it’s a shame, because he is hugely talented, with a knack for writing memorable themes and crafting moments of great drama and beauty. The score for O Jerusalem starts strongly, with the titular opening track presenting a powerful orchestral theme overlaid with alternating male and female and vocal effect.

A number of subsequent cues leave a similarly positive impression, notably the ebullient clarinet solo in “We Need Them Now”, the heartfelt piano and string performances in “The Convoy”, the tragedy-laden action music in “Explosion at Hotel” and “Bobby’s Battle Begins” … the opening sextet of cues really set the album up to be a winner, and for the entire length of the score Endelman never drops the ball. The orchestra combines with various ethnic elements to represent the geographic setting of the film – a duduk crops up here and there – and the voices are interweaved so well with the rest of the music that they never sound overbearing or out of place.

Even Endelman’s use of synths is generally excellent and appropriately unobtrusive, especially in the astonishing “The Laturn”, which combines ecclesiastical plainsong with electric guitars, synths and dramatic orchestral chords to surprisingly engaging effect. One or two source music pieces litter the middle of the album – notably the flamboyant dance piece “Yismehou”, or the melancholy “Novi San Novi Dan” – but for the most part this is a sad, reflective, occasionally uplifting score which is most certainly worth taking a chance on, especially if you have heard and liked any of Stephen Endelman’s previous efforts.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • O Jerusalem (2:29)
  • We Need Them Now (1:51)
  • The Convoy (2:32)
  • The Vote (2:36)
  • Explosion at Hotel (3:02)
  • Bobby’s Battle Begins (2:23)
  • Do What I Want To Do [song] (1:10)
  • The Key to Zion (1:44)
  • Back Packs (1:47)
  • Yismehou [song] (1:49)
  • The Laturn (3:49)
  • Bobby’s Story (2:45)
  • They Didn’t Want Thin Woman (2:00)
  • Castel Devastated (3:19)
  • My Baby [song] (2:39)
  • Novi San Novi Dan (performed by Ivana Jeftic) (1:52)
  • Boat Dock (1:49)
  • The Road to Jerusalem (2:40)
  • The Boat Arrives (1:26)
  • The Arab Revolt (3:07)
  • Back Packs Arrive (1:53)
  • Blowing the Wall (2:48)
  • Bobby’s Wedding (4:58)
  • O Jerusalem End Title (3:13)

Running Time: 59 minutes 41 seconds

Milan Music 399 062-2 (2007)

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