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Comments about the soundtrack for Return to Paradise (Mark Mancina)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: Heath Chamerski   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Sunday, March 30, 2008, at 2:58 p.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by Heath Chamerski was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in March, 2008)

Return to Paradise: (Mark Mancina) An excellent score which is bound to go down as one of the most underrated and little heard scores of the nineties, Mark Mancina's Return To Paradise sounds totally unlike everything else he has produced so far. A tender and at times heart wrenching score perfectly suits the film, and makes for an entertaining listening experience on its own. Mancina introduces his recurring main theme in the opening track "Looking at You" which is actually the music which scores the final scenes of the film. The score alternates between tender orchestral music and a harsher industrial sound, which underscore some of the scenes set in the United States.

Mancina keeps coming back to his main theme many times, reworking and changing the pace of it. The purely orchestral tracks (which feature French Horn solos) are brilliantly composed and quietly haunting. The only complaint that I have is the use of the industrial music, with crashing drums and pounding bass, which are very hard to listen to, but it isn't overused. Mancina also relates his music to both character and locations, using traditional Malaysian music for the Malaysian scenes, and using harsh electronics for the New York scenes. The score covers a wide range of musical styles and sounds, and manages to weave them together very well. The score is not disjointed at all, it manages to combine the different sounds well, especially the contrasts between the industrial and orchestral music.

Only one track "Flesh and Blood" comes close to sounding like a traditional Mancina track, as it builds up to a feverish pace, resembling his work on Twister, but the score overall is very sombre and moody. The score is perhaps a little too low key at times, but it is good to see that Mancina can work outside of one genre and produce a quality dramatic score. Some of the other tracks such as "The Prison" and "Second Call" are extremely simple tracks, used to build mood in the film and they work well. "The Prison" especially conveys the mood of isolation and terror that Joaquin Phoenix's character goes through in the Malaysian prison. Even more desolate is the track "The Hanging" which is bleak and frightening to listen to. It's not the most enjoyable music to listen to, but for its function in the film, it is perfect. The standout track is certainly "Desperate Lovers", which features a piano solo of the main theme, it is emotional, tender but very powerful. Mancina obviously loved crafting music with real depth for this score.

This score is definitely a milestone in Mancina's short career and shows evidence of his repertoire expanding. This Varèse Sarabande release is also one of their longest in recent times, clocking in at just over 42 minutes. This is a small score for a small movie, but easily one of the more moving and emotional scores of the past few years, which deserves to be more widely heard. ****

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rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. Scoreboard created 7/24/98 and last updated 4/25/15.