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Comments about the soundtrack for Babel (Gustavo Santaolalla/Ryuichi Sakamoto)
Response to your review

Aidan R
(hax.rba.gov.au)


  Responses to this Comment:
littleprince
Andy Dufresne
James Wang
Response to your review   Sunday, January 28, 2007 (9:34 p.m.) 
• Now Playing: BABEL  

Just a response to your frustrating review of BABEL.

I just bought the soundtrack after having seen the movie a few days ago.
I paid the $30 in great anticipation because I was stunned by the spare and intense emotional impact of the music during the film. For once, in this sea of overblown hollywood strings, we get to hear a score that dares to operate on an emotional level that is not guided by “enhancement” of emotions, but rather creates a lifeblood all its own through honest musical improvisation and careful scoring.

What you describe as “completely non-descript score tracks, some of which are offensive in their simplistic source-style monotony”, I would describe as deeply intimate and affecting pieces of music that speak in a very human language, becoming a character as troubled and delicate as the human beings depicted in this wonderful film.

The genre-ambiguous, haunting music of the Oud and synthesizers etc speaks in this score like the weary spirit of human frailty – I think it’s genius, crossing both geological and emotional territory and fusing them together with one ghostly collection of themes – Santaolalla made absolutely the right choices in creating the atmospheric bed for BABEL.

That last piece with the piano and strings has haunted my sleep for several nights.

You chastize this score for its improvised nature, and understated presence – do your ears need more melodic and traditionally dexterous themes to play to your emotions? Why can’t a score take an approach that involves less “enhancement” and more sensitive performance? If every actor in this film performed in the Chartlon Heston template, I think perhaps the emotional truth of the story might have been lost. What do you think?

I think it’s supremely arrogant of you to segregate the listening community into the divisions of “a small group of listeners” and “knowledgable film score fans”. What, I ask you, makes a “knowledgable film score fan”? One that guages all his opinions and reactions on the acrobatics of more “capable” orchestral composers? Or one that simply responds to music as a shared experience, appreciating that subtlety has a place in performance of all kinds, especially in this, the most visceral and emotional form of communication?

The actors did enough work in this movie without the score having to wail and cry, urging us to be “compelled”. I was compelled by the score’s silence - therein lies its simple beauty, and the ultimate appeal of Santaolalla’s music for BABEL – that we are given the chance to experience this story alongside the performers, not merely told how to feel by a gaudy “oscar-winning” hollywood suite.

And since when do you judge the merits of music on what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences thinks?

- Aidan R, Composer, Australia



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littleprince
<Send E-Mail>
(chello080109005178.15.14.univie.t
eleweb.at)

  In Response to:
Aidan R
Re: Response to your review   Monday, February 26, 2007 (3:07 p.m.) 

> That last piece with the piano and strings has haunted my sleep for
> several nights.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtBaigqvoC0



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Andy Dufresne
(athedsl-291365.otenet.gr)

  In Response to:
Aidan R
Re: Response to your review   Wednesday, February 28, 2007 (10:14 a.m.) 

> That last piece with the piano and strings has haunted my sleep for
> several nights.

Dude, this piano piece that haunted you wasn't even composed by Santaolalla, and not even made specifically for this movie. However he stood up there and received his Oscar, for what? A couple of pieces and guitar and mandolin (what ever that thing is) improvisations?



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James Wang
(z06.nvidia.com)

  In Response to:
Aidan R

  Responses to this Comment:
krazie835
Jimbo
Re: Response to your review   Tuesday, March 6, 2007 (3:34 p.m.) 

I completely agree with you Aidan.

And so what if the final track is not composed by him? Soundtrack is a mapping of music to picture, and the final track was just perfect. It even melds with the rest of the music on this CD.

I think this reviewer is just too use to the classic notion of what a soundtrack is suppose to be. This arragement is just too alien for him. For similar reasons, The Fountain got a bad review from this website too.

At the end of the day, Babel's music lives like a spirit in the movie. It not only elevates the film but adds soul and breaths life into it. The fact that it doesn't have consistent melody, theme and all those 'traditional' elements are moot.

People have no imagination these days.



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krazie835
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global.net)
Profile Picture
  In Response to:
James Wang
Re: Response to your review   Monday, December 10, 2007 (12:00 a.m.) 

> I completely agree with you Aidan.

> And so what if the final track is not composed by him? Soundtrack is a
> mapping of music to picture, and the final track was just perfect. It even
> melds with the rest of the music on this CD.

> I think this reviewer is just too use to the classic notion of what a
> soundtrack is suppose to be. This arragement is just too alien for him.
> For similar reasons, The Fountain got a bad review from this website too.

> At the end of the day, Babel's music lives like a spirit in the movie. It
> not only elevates the film but adds soul and breaths life into it. The
> fact that it doesn't have consistent melody, theme and all those
> 'traditional' elements are moot.

> People have no imagination these days.

A score doesn't need a theme or a melody to be considered good and it doesn't need to be traditional either. Jerry Goldsmith and Ennio Morricone and even Hans Zimmer have strayed from using pure ochrestral elements in their work and they have made great music. Those three composers have more imagination in my opinion than Gustavo has had in his entire career.



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Jimbo
(adsl-67-125-218-189.dsl.lsan03.pa
cbell.net)
Profile Picture
  In Response to:
James Wang
Re: Response to your review   Tuesday, October 6, 2009 (9:03 p.m.) 

> I completely agree with you Aidan.

> And so what if the final track is not composed by him? Soundtrack is a
> mapping of music to picture, and the final track was just perfect. It even
> melds with the rest of the music on this CD.

So give the damn Oscar to the original composer, not Santoalla. Besides, even if it's a perfect fit, it leads to a less than compelling listen. I can't imagine a lot of people who would listen to the entire album, and the tracks that are actually good, they're ripped off from other sources. The only original track that I like is the end credits, I'll give Santoalla credit for that, but it always seems to lack any compelling thematic drive that would truly resonate with listeners. You'll argue that it's already memorable, but tp me, it's one wasted opportunity.



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