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Beyond Rangoon
Composed and Produced by:
Hans Zimmer

Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Nick Glennie-Smith

Milan Entertainment

Release Date:
August 15th, 1995

Also See:
The Prince of Egypt
The Lion King
Crimson Tide

Audio Clips:
1. Waters of Irrawaddy (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

5. Brother Morphine (0:35):
WMA (224K)  MP3 (277K)
Real Audio (172K)

6. Our Ways Will Part (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

8. Beyond Rangoon (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release.


Beyond Rangoon

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Buy it... if you admire Hans Zimmer's most lyrical and beautifully harmonic works, among which Beyond Rangoon is a gorgeous powerhouse.

Avoid it... if the lovely contributions of female voice and ethnic woodwinds cannot compensate for the overbearing bass produced without mercy in the composer's standard electronic style of the era.

Beyond Rangoon: (Hans Zimmer) Director John Boorman is no stranger to the action genre set in exotic locations, and Beyond Rangoon is a thrilling variation of every American tourist's worst nightmare come true. The story places an American doctor and her sister on a vacation in Burma, but when the main character's passport is stolen, she becomes separated from her tour group. While waiting for a replacement, she witnesses a government crime that she was not supposed to see, ending up on the run for her life. The edgy atmosphere in Beyond Rangoon, or any Boorman film for that matter, is balanced by the almost serene visual beauty of the locations of filming. This production's breathtaking cinematography of Burma is a blatant contrast to the horror of the story, so the job of composer Hans Zimmer was to write a score that would root its disturbed nature in an atmosphere of weighty, but lovely harmony. Zimmer wrote Beyond Rangoon at roughly the same time as The Lion King, marking an enormously busy period for the composer even before his Academy Award win. As he would do several times in the mid-1990's, Zimmer brought his vast array of synthesizer technology to the table, supplementing it with a small handful of traditional instruments and soloists to mask the harsh sound of the electronics. The composer admitted to being initially somewhat nervous about scoring Beyond Rangoon because of his enormous respect for John Boorman, as well as the director's keen knowledge about musical styles and construction. At the same time, the prospect of working with Boorman was equally inspiring, because the director's films, as mentioned above, always seem to offer composers spectacular visuals to accompany the music. While the scores for Boorman thrillers haven't always been the melodic types, Zimmer approached the project with a very lyrical result in mind, eventually providing one of the most lush and romantic sounds of his career. The style isn't considerably different from that of a morbidly depressing work like The House of the Spirits, especially in the overpowering bass region, but the statements of themes (which are themselves reminiscent of Zimmer scores going back to Backdraft) are so colorful that they alone redeem the score as one of uplifting inspiration.

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The success of Beyond Rangoon for Zimmer begins with his choice of instrumentation. The electronics, despite their inherent weaknesses in expressiveness, are used primarily as bass-driving devices, providing a steady, droning rhythm and occasional sharp hit for moments of fright. This is how Zimmer creates the horror; the score is extremely heavy in the bass, not only in the mixing of the recording, but also by design. By doing this, Zimmer avoids the stereotypical crashing of the upper range electronics (except, perhaps, in "Village Under Siege") that would tarnish lesser Media Ventures scores like The Rock. With the synthesizers (and moderate string section) restrained to a supporting role, the truly wonderful instruments of the ensemble can shine. The ethnic flutes and pipes performed by Richard Harvey are the central voice of the score, offering a convincing feel for the culture of Burma while also soothing the listener. Upper and lower range pipes alternate in performances opposite a mournful female voice. The ethereal wordless vocals offer an additional sense of beauty to the location and drive the spirit of the female characters in the film. Often in the background behind these performances are ethnic bells and chimes that cause a significantly watery effect on the score. These four elements together form a strikingly cohesive ensemble, performing often with awesome beauty and representing an attention on subtle texture that Zimmer largely abandoned in his later, more predictable blockbuster scores. Their roles wouldn't be as impressive if not for Zimmer's nearly constant presentation of thematic harmony. With very slow tempi from the outset, the themes are elegant though simple, and their deliberate pace allows the gravity of the performances to sink in even further. The repetitive, but fluid construct of these rhythms is similar to parts of Toys, especially with the very heavy bass electronics, though the instrumentation foreshadows the most elegantly appealing stylistic aspects of The Prince of Egypt. Overall, the recording quality of Beyond Rangoon is extremely clear, and it is mixed with a wet sound that suggests an almost dreamy state in which the plot is taking place. The final suite on the album (which was released a year after the film's debut) is a stunning piece that compensates for the occasionally overbearing cues earlier on the product. This is, without a doubt, a hidden Zimmer gem from a time in his career that many of his collectors wish he would revisit once again. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Hans Zimmer reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.98 (in 89 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3 (in 266,330 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.91 Stars
Smart Average: 3.68 Stars*
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   One of the very best
  grike -- 12/27/08 (8:39 a.m.)
  Gerardo -- 12/19/05 (2:26 p.m.)
   Wonderfull: the best ever listened
  Gedý -- 10/16/05 (9:43 a.m.)
   Beyond Rangoon
  corsito -- 9/26/05 (5:35 a.m.)
   Flute by Richard Harvey
  UrsKR -- 9/29/04 (7:09 a.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 38:37

• 1. Waters of Irrawaddy (3:49)
• 2. Memories of the Dead (1:45)
• 3. I Dreamt I Woke Up (8:41)
• 4. Freedom From Fear (1:07)
• 5. Brother Morphine (1:44)
• 6. Our Ways Will Part (7:11)
• 7. Village Under Siege (4:11)
• 8. Beyond Rangoon (10:10)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes notes about both the score and film. Some track times are mislabeled on the packaging (1. 3:46, 5. 1:03, 7. 4:07).

  All artwork and sound clips from Beyond Rangoon are Copyright © 1994, Milan Entertainment. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 9/13/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.