Home > Reviews > WIR WOLLTEN AUFS MEER – Nic Raine


October 22, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Wir Wollten Aufs Meer (Shores of Hope) is a German-language drama/thriller directed by Toke Constantin Hebbeln and starring Alexander Fehling, August Diehl and Sylvester Groth, all of whom featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Set in East Germany before the wall came down, the film follows the lives of two friends, Cornelis and Andreas, who work as longshoremen on the docks at the port of Rostock, but dream of going to sea, and escaping their country’s crushing communist regime. However, their friendship is put to the test when the Stasi, the East German secret police, approach the pair, asking them to spy on their foreman, Matze, who is suspected to be planning a daring bolt for freedom. Faced with mounting pressure from the government, Cornelis and Andreas must make a terrible decision: can they betray their principles and their consciences and report Matze’s activities to the authorities, knowing full well that he will likely be sent to prison for life, if doing so increases their own chances of a better life?

The score for Wir Wollten Aufs Meer is by Nic Raine, the composer and conductor best known to film music fans as the late John Barry’s long time orchestrator, and for his work with the Silva Screen record label on their series of re-recordings of classic film scores. Raine’s career as a solo composer is still in its relative infancy, him having composed music for just a handful of documentaries and TV movies over the last few years, but this is all likely to change if enough people hear Wir Wollten Aufs Meer and come to realize that he is a superbly talented composer in his own right.

Written for the full City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – with whom Raine has worked numerous times – Wir Wollten Aufs Meer is a thoughtful, reflective, slightly downbeat, but tremendously emotional theme-driven score that places significant emphasis on strings, piano, and Dave Heath’s brooding alto flute performances. The main theme is filled with a longing, haunting quality, and is clearly intended to depict the sense of frustration and yearning that the two central characters feel. It appears prominently throughout the score – in the opening “No Man’s Land” where the flute drives the melody, and in later cues such as “On the Beach”, the moody waltz of “Wandering Through the Woods”, the gently romantic ‘The Proposal”, the morose “Loneliness/Letter Reading”, and the stark and oppressive “Bad News/Lies”.

Stylistically, the main theme is clearly heavily influenced by John Barry, mirroring the long-lined, carefully-paced, quietly romantic melodies that defined the latter stages of the late Englishman’s career. It reminds me most of his 1997 score Swept from the Sea, especially in the harmonies and countermelodies, but Raine’s melodic ideas are his own, and it’s refreshing to hear a composer in 2012 not afraid to place a strong thematic identity on a film of this kind.

There’s action music and suspense too, including the unusual rhythmic thrusting of “Matze’s Apartment/In the Car”, and the undulating string writing and staccato rhythms of cues such as “The Harbor/The Arrest”, “At the Hospital”, “Reading the Forgery/The Report” and “Typing”. Raine’s mastery as a talented orchestrator shines through, too, as many cues feature clever instrumental textures, for no other reason than it makes the music more interesting and varied. Woodblocks, xylophones, faded timpani rolls, and a whole host of other percussion techniques keep the music moving and the tension levels high, and in these moments Raine’s writing reminds me of the kind of music Alexandre Desplat wrote for films like The Ghost Writer.

The score’s finale begins with the pathos-heavy and melancholic “End of Friendship/Salvation”, before presenting the most powerful and stirring performance of the main theme in the conclusive “Wir Wollten aufs Meer – End Titles”, one of the best single cues of the year. When the main theme develops from its initial piano refrain to encompass the entire orchestra, at around the one minute mark, the effect is magnificent. Not content to end things there, Raine’s theme is also turned into a song, “Niemandsland”, performed with tender fragility by Raine’s daughter, singer/songwriter Poppy Alice. Some of the lyrics are a little suspect, at times almost approaching Will Jennings territory for triteness, but the emotional oomph of the song, and the haunting sincerity of Poppy’s performance more than makes up for it.

It’s interesting how often composers better known for their work as orchestrators for other composers – Conrad Pope, William Ross, Mark McKenzie – excel when given a chance to step into the limelight. Nic Raine is another addition to this illustrious list. Although the film Wir Wollten Aufs Meer is unlikely to appeal to international audiences beyond central Europe, the score demands attention from all serious score collectors, and stands as one of the best efforts of its type in 2012, and I unhesitatingly recommend it.

Rating: ****

Buy the Wir Wollten Aufs Meer soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • No Man’s Land (3:07)
  • Matze’s Apartment/In the Car (3:09)
  • On the Beach (1:48)
  • The Harbor/The Arrest (3:22)
  • At the Hospital (1:47)
  • Wandering Through the Woods (2:52)
  • The Proposal/The Fence (2:59)
  • Spy House/Prison (2:39)
  • Loneliness/Letter Reading (3:48)
  • Reading the Forgery/The Report (2:59)
  • Writing to Mai (2:23)
  • Letter Writing/Visiting Time (3:18)
  • Typing (0:47)
  • Bad News/Lies (6:52)
  • Ralfi Leaves/Colonel’s House (3:12)
  • End of Friendship/Salvation (4:45)
  • Wir Wollten Aufs Meer – End Titles (4:33)
  • Niemandsland (performed by Poppy Alice) (3:06)

Running Time: 61 minutes 30 seconds

Tadlow Music 018 (2012)

Music composed and conducted by Nic Raine. Performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Orchestrations by Nic Raine. Featured musical soloist Dave Heath. Recorded and mixed by Jan Holzner. Album produced by Nic Raine and James Fitzpatrick.

  1. January 29, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Your entire posting, “WIR WOLLTEN AUFS MEER – Nic
    Raine MOVIE MUSIC UK” was definitely worth commenting here!
    Only wanted to admit you truly did a wonderful work.
    Thanks for your time ,Faustino

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