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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Decca Records (028947539827)
Movie | Released: 2003 | Film release: 2003 | Format: CD

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# Track Artist/Composer Duration
1.The Far Side of the World9:19
2.Into the Fog2:12
3.Violin Concerto No3 "Straussburg" K.215, 3rd MovementW. A. Mozart1:19
4.The Cuckold Comes Out of the Amery - Traditional3:27
5.Smoke N' Oakum5:27
6.Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis - Ralph Vaughn Williams5:14
7.Adagio from Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No. 8 in G Minor, "Christmas Concerto" - Arcangelo Corelli1:56
8.The Doldrums2:46
9.Prelude from the Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007J.S. Bach2:28
10.The Galapagos1:39
11.Folk Medley: O'Sullivan's March, Cuckold Comes Out of the Amery, Mother Hen, Mary Scott, Nancy Dawson - Traditional5:12
12.The Phasmid2:34
13.The Battle5:07
14.Boccherini La Musica Notturna Delle Strade di Madrid, No. 6, Op. 30 (String Quintet in C) - Luigi Boccherini9:23
15.Full Circle (with dialogue)1:34
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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - 08/10 - Review of Tom Daish, submitted at
I'm sure films never used to have such long and drawn out titles, yet for the umpteenth time in 2003 we have a film with an long, inane and largely redundant title. Both Far Side of the World and Master and Commander are equally striking titles on their own, but combined just sound overinflated. Anyway, enough of that. The film stars Russell Crowe and is directed by the somewhat unprolific Peter Weir. It does seem a touch unfortunate that Weir no longer works with the now retired Maurice Jarre (as he did on Witness and Dead Poets Society, amongst others) as the composer seems ideal for this kind of material. Still, for everyone who would rather cut off their own ears than listen to another minute of Media Ventures' godawful Pirates of the Caribbean: Johnny Depp Goes Camp, the combined efforts of Christopher Gordon, Iva Davies and Richard Tognetti are an altogether more engaging mixture, along with a selection of classical excerpts.

I suppose it's a touch unfair to compare Master and Commander with Pirates of the Caribbean, as it isn't really a pirate movie, but about an exploration of 'the far side of the world, against the backdrop of Napoleonic Wars.' Gordon and company go for an authentic approach, rather than epic, swashbuckling adventure. There is a lot of folksy percussion and strings, which sounds distinctly inspired by Celtic or Gaelic folk music. Cues such as The Battle, where one might expect a whooping brass cue, is in fact based on acoustic percussion that wouldn't sound out of place in Riverdance, but with some kind of high woodwind fluttering eerily on top (it's difficult to tell whether it's a flute or some genuine folk instrument). There is no real main theme, but an ascending string figure recurs on a few notable occasions, first appearing in the lengthy opening track. Some of the cues are suspenseful and a touch uninteresting, The Galapagos for example, but are fairly brief. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the lack of any grand moments of discovery, little excitement that suggests the arrival at some paradise island. This is a score for a film truly grounded in the grim reality of ocean exploration.

Surprisingly and pleasingly, the classical excerpts are entirely appropriate to the period. Only the Mozart would have been relatively new, the others are from much earlier. True, Vaughan-Williams wasn't around to have written his Fantasia, but Thomas Tallis would certainly have written the theme on which it is based. Anyone who enjoyed Alan Hoveness' Mysterious Mountain Symphony, as featured on the Five Sacred Trees album, will certainly enjoy the Vaughan-Williams. The others are more dependent on a taste for baroque music, but the performances are fine and the selections aren't too at odds with the score itself. Some may be disappointed at their inclusion, but I suspect they form as important a part of the underscore as the music written specifically for the film. Anyone hoping for a big adventure score may find the album a disappointment, but Gordon, Davies and Tognetti's (there is no indication as to who did what) mixture of folksy, with the occasional modern, eerie instrumental effect is a pleasing stab at authenticity, but also an enjoyable listen on its own terms.
World Soundtrack Awards: Discovery of the Year (Nominee)

This soundtrack trailer contains music of:

Children of Dune (2003), Brian Tyler (Movie)


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