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Friday, December 19, 2008


Return from the River Kwai
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Harkit Records HRKCD 8259 (UK)
18 Tracks 52:57 mins

A very welcome premiere release of Lalo Schifrin's orchestral score for 1988's Return from the River Kwai, directed by action helmer extraordinaire Andrew V. McLaglen, whose last film I believe this was, and starring Edward Fox, Nick Tate, George Takei, Denholm Elliot, Christopher Penn and Timothy Bottoms.
This disc is really a labour of love, as it was a difficult assignment for album producer James Fitzpatrick who, finding no separate musical elements remaining, had to reconstruct the score from the dubbed magnetic tracks, which involved painstakingly trying to equalise the levels of the music, which had been dialled in and out of the film. At the end of the day, whilst there's still some fluctuation noticeable, Fitzpatrick and his engineer, Gareth Williams, have done an admirable job in getting the music out there.
The score gets underway with Schifrin's exciting "Main Title," which really propels us into the story, and which is subject to numerous variations throughout the subsequent score. The following "Destroyed Bridge/Meo Tribesmen" is a largely tense affair; whilst "Firing Squad/Time and Change" is suitably mournful to start with, before woodwinds gently reprise the main theme in slightly more hopeful fashion. Tense action introduces "Headman/Crawford," picking up the pace in yet another, more heroic, variation on the main theme to close. The theme returns throughout another actioner " No Glory in Dying," which is followed by the initially suspenseful "Miller's Head/Final Mission," before ending in a powerful and tragic conclusion.
"Cambodia" has a plodding, Asian-tinged opening, giving way to a mournful reprise of the main theme and leading on to the ominous "Brasil Maru." More action follows in "Rickshaw/Runaway," which takes flight at the end, continuing dramatically into "Crash Position/Gangplank," before segueing to the lovely, melodic "Japanese Theme, which Japanese composer Kitaro was invited to compose for the film, and which was also used as the entire background music for the trailer. "Dive/Like a Shark" is a largely suspenseful affair, the music becoming even more tense for much of "The take-over," "Sit Tight/Anchor Chain" and the lengthy "Escort Hit/Abandon Ship!/Sinking."
The score concludes with triumphant variations on the main theme over the "End Titles, together with an uplifting instrumental of "Pack Up Your troubles in Your Old Kit Bag." A special, stand-alone, version of the "Japanese Theme" closes the album.
Accompanying the disc is the usual high-quality booklet, with Darren Allison's detailed notes on the film, its production, cast, and of course the music and its restoration. Go to for more details, sound clips and of course to order your copy.


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7:12 PM  

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