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THE KITE RUNNER – Alberto Iglesias

December 14, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Another powerful drama based on a hugely important and successful novel, director Marc Forster’s The Kite Runner examines 30 years of the history of Afghanistan – from the downfall of the historical monarchy, through the Soviet years, to the stifling influence of the Taliban and beyond – from the point of view of two young friends, Amir and Hassan, whose fates diverge dramatically as a result of a seemingly innocuous childhood incident.

The score for The Kite Runner is by Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias, and as one might expect a fair amount of the score contains the increasingly-familiar Middle Eastern inflections, in the writing, the orchestration, the rhythms and the vocal effects. The cultural mishmash of influences – from Greece, Turkey, Iran, India and elsewhere – combined with a fairly large western orchestra is an exotic one, but the problem with the score as a whole is that it’s all stuff we’ve heard before: the frantic percussion in the “Opening Titles”, the wailing muezzin in “The Call”, the fluttery woodwinds in “Kabul 1978”, the vigorous dance motif towards the end of “Kite Shop” and so on – it’s like Iglesias had a list of ethnic clichés he wanted to check off, and went through them one by one.

Similarly, a lot of the orchestral writing is quite nondescript in itself, consisting of little more and meandering woodwind lines and soft string textures which fail to leave much of an impression. Perhaps I’m being unkind; the vaguely Morricone-esque woodwind theme in “Sin” is quite attractive, and the remarkably sprightly and lively “Kite Tournament” is truly delightful, the stark “The Stadium” contains an unexpectedly potent electric guitar solo, and the chaotic “Escape” has a sense of frenzied energy, but beyond these brief highlights, much of the score remains surprisingly dull.

Iglesias’s score is complemented by five songs in Arabic by Ahmad Zahir, Ehsan Aman and Sami Yusuf, which range from the entrancing to the horrifically cheesy – such is the way of these things. Iglesias was Oscar nominated for his score, although his recognition feels like another one of those ‘we wanted to give the film some recognition and the composer has a foreign name, so this will do’ awards, than a true reflection of the quality of the music.

Rating: **½

Track Listing:

  • Opening Titles (3:21)
  • The Call, Kabul 1978 (2:33)
  • He Hates Me (1:08)
  • Kite Shop (3:07)
  • Sin (1:34)
  • Tanha Shudam Tanha (performed by Ahmad Zahir) (3:36)
  • Kite Tournament (5:40)
  • Hassan Theme (2:58)
  • Az Man Begurezed (performed by Ahmad Zahir) (5:04)
  • Plant the Watch (1:30)
  • Russians Invade (2:23)
  • The Truth (1:59)
  • Omaid E Man (performed by Ehsan Aman) (1:47)
  • Fuel Tanker (3:09)
  • End Phone Call (2:06)
  • The Stadium (2:34)
  • Escape (3:11)
  • Dukhtare Darya (performed by Ehsan Aman) (3:44)
  • Fly A Kite (4:27)
  • Reading the Letter (2:50)
  • Supplication (performed by Sami Yusuf) (4:06)

Running Time: 62 minutes 47 seconds

Deutsche Grammophon 477 733-3 (2007)

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