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The Thin Red Line

Track List:
  1. The Coral Atoll 8:00
  2. The Lagoon 8:36
  3. Journey To the Line 9:21
  4. Light 7:19
  5. Beam 3:44
  6. Air 2:21
  7. Stone In My Heart 4:28
  8. The Village 5:52
  9. Silence 5:06
  10. God U Tekem Laef Blong Mi 1:58
  11. Sit Back and Relax 2:06

Total Time: (58:49)

Composed by:
Hans Zimmer,
John Powell,
Francesco Lupica

Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler,
Yvonne S. Moriarty

Conducted by:
Gavin Greenaway

I'll be honest, I *loved* the movie. Personally, I think it blew Saving Private Ryan completely out of the water, that includes both film and score. John Williams' "Hymn to the Fallen" was good, but a single track from an otherwise boring score can never come close to the blindingly beautiful and haunting music that Hans Zimmer and his Media Ventures cohorts penned for The Thin Red Line. Well, at least the music that Zimmer himself wrote, the others' music is quite weak by comparison. Fortunately, Zimmer put aside his usual rock-based style in favor of a much more brooding flavor. The typical Zimmer synths are still at work here, but actually do an excellent job adding to the music. Powell and Lupica's music, however, takes the more pretentious route with the synthesizers, expecially in the last track, "Sit Back and Relax," which is by far the weakest track on the disc. Fortunately this track is on the very end, after Zimmer's end credit work, "God U Tekem Laef Blong Mi" which is a choral version of a native chant used in many scenes throughout the film.

Many people seem to find the native choral piece on the end to interfere with the gloominess of the score, which I would consider true except for one important point: in the film, it represents utopia apart from the evils of the raging World War II, it represents a world apart from the one the soldiers in the film are forced to experience. The track seems to represent an unatainable, surrealistic dream that actually makes it seem a bit more poetic and grim, also making it fit in just fine with the rest of the score. If you have felt in the past that the choral track interrupts the score, you should remember my words the next time you listen to it. You may have a much different perspective. Besides, the track is absolutely beautiful anyway.

The entire album is peppered with emotion and I like all of Zimmer's tracks, but I would have to say "Journey to the Line" is my favorite. A minute or so into the track and I doubt that many could avoid being entranced by its sheer beauty and magnificence. It's hard to believe sometimes that I don't generally like Zimmer's music when I listen to such work. The score's weak point is the track "Beam," composed by both of Zimmer's students, but it does contain an interesting synth sound that reminds me of the "blaster beam" from the early Star Trek scores, in fact it might actually be the same instrument. Fortunately, tracks 5 and 11 are the only ones on the disc that are not composed by Zimmer himself, so little of the score is actually done by his associates.

Basically, this was my favorite score of 1998, right up there with Horner's The Mask of Zorro, and certainly my favorite Zimmer score thus far (though I don't have Hannibal, which I've heard is quite good and reminiscent of Goldenthal). Personally, I can't imagine anyone not liking this, but it may be more suited to long background listens for some people simply because it is so inherently slow in tempo. It is also a very good album to go to sleep or relax to. Anyway, the movie The Thin Red Line is a work of art, a true masterpiece of drama, and it is reflected extremely well in its score. If you wish to pick up a slow and menacing, yet astoundingly gorgeous war film score, I suggest you pass over Saving Private Ryan and opt for the superior The Thin Red Line. You won't regret it.

The Thin Red Line is Copyright 1998 RCA/Victor. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not reflect the opinions of Tripod.