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Section Header
FernGully: The Last Rainforest
Composed and Produced by:
Alan Silvestri

Orchestrated and Conducted by:
William Ross

MCA Records

Release Date:
January 26th, 1992

Also See:
Free Willy

Audio Clips:
2. Skylarking (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

9. The Grotto Song (0:28):
WMA (184K)  MP3 (227K)
Real Audio (141K)

12. Remember Everything (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

14. Genesis (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release, but out of print as of 2007.


FernGully: The Last Rainforest
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Sales Rank: 210084

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Buy it... if the sounds of birds, waterfalls, and thunderstorms seem like a good addition to an average, synthetically-rendered children's score by Alan Silvestri.

Avoid it... if the sickeningly positive electronic music you hear for children's rides at amusement parks makes you want to maim a cute little stuffed animal.

FernGully: The Last Rainforest: (Alan Silvestri) Few films are as blatantly motivated by politics as this piece of rhetoric masquerading as an animated adventure in the rainforests. To be honest, FernGully: The Last Rainforest is one of those children's films that masks itself in the feel-good genre of filmmaking while pushing the real agenda at children, an agenda that causes the film to actually convey a feel-bad message (that message being: we're destroying the lungs of the Earth). Essentially, the film takes cool characters from the rainforests and shows us how they overcome the hideous actions of "those humans." A portion of the proceeds from the 1992 picture (and soundtrack albums) was sent to the Smithsonian Institute to manage in favor of causes around the world that save rain forests (and the Amazon in particular). Perhaps it was the pseudo feel-bad message that caused the film to slip away from the public eye after a year of hype and publicity surrounding the reasons for its existence. The same fate was suffered by the film's serious, dramatic counterpart of the era, Medicine Man. To the credit of the filmmakers, they did everything right to bury their feel-bad message in a pretty package. The musical approach was obviously one that was very strongly rooted in the psyche of children. A series of songs by popular artists, ranging from Robin Williams to Elton John, were littered throughout the film, as was an abundance of soothing, happy sound effects for the location. An upbeat, flakey score by Alan Silvestri would be a perfect addition to the mix, despite its low budget circumstances. Familiar with composing in small studios with arrays of synthesizers, Silvestri could create the ambience of an orchestral score electronically while also infusing the music with some of the basic sound effects from the film. Many of the sounds of birds, waterfalls, insects, and thunderclaps in the film are actually part of the musical score by Silvestri, who integrates the effects into convenient rhythms instead of using traditional orchestral instrumentation. The same general idea would be explored by Bruno Coulais for the documentary Winged Migration in the following decade, though obviously with a more serious tone. If the concept of hearing a sickeningly optimistic synthetic score dominated by forest-related sound effects seems a little weird, then you're not alone.

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But that unconventional structure represents the way the score was intended to be. The resulting music is a crazy combination of Free Willy and The Princess Bride (the former was not yet released, but featuring a strikingly similar title theme). There really isn't any convincing faux-orchestral presence, but rather a sampled, electronic replacement of symphonic tones. Silvestri pulls it off better than you would think that anyone could accomplish given the technology of 1992 studios, though by the standards of the 2000's, the work has the distinct personality of an unfinished demo recording. There are a few strong thematic sequences of the score, often involving light keyboarding. Otherwise, however, some of the happy-go-lucky sequences of bouncy electronics make you think you're stuck in the Disneyland light parade (a truly demented sound for countless decades) or some bizarre kiddy amusement park ride. This music evolves into a full pop song ("The Grotto Song") of Silvestri's co-creation, perfectly summing up the sickeningly positive environment of the whole affair. The score dances through the forest with light feet and a sometimes annoying sense of glee. What saves the music from being a torturous procession of good vibes is, ironically, the vast collection of sound effects. Also an attraction is the employment of voices in the album's final three tracks, though the penultimate entry is actually a collection of traditional pieces adapted into a fluid suite. There are entire tracks that consist of only the chirps, the waves, and the various animal sounds of the forest, and when Silvestri combines these effects with minimal volumes of music, the score is surreal in its ability to relax the listener. There is, however, a scary, grinding, mechanical sound, followed by a falling tree effect, in "Leveller." As was becoming the custom for record labels in the early 1990's, music from FernGully: The Last Rainforest was released on two albums. The first album contained mostly the songs from the film and was generally considered a decent product. The Silvestri score was released on its own at the same time, clocking in at about 45 minutes of length (if you include the sound effects). There isn't much adventure in the score for FernGully: The Last Rainforest, but there is an overdose of cheesy attitude and well-rendered synthetic moments of awe that are meant to wow the minds of children. It's an interesting study from a political standpoint and certainly a unique entry in Silvestri's career. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Alan Silvestri reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.36 (in 33 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.24 (in 31,658 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.99 Stars
Smart Average: 3.01 Stars*
***** 41 
**** 51 
*** 57 
** 45 
* 45 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   I liked it.
  J.W. -- 2/5/05 (8:09 p.m.)
   Re: I hate happy music...
  Pogel Adler -- 7/23/03 (8:27 a.m.)
   I hate happy music...
  Amuro -- 7/21/03 (7:27 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 44:02

• 1. Main Title (2:27)
• 2. Skylarking (2:28)
• 3. Magi Lune's Cave (2:43)
• 4. Xanthoreas (1:27)
• 5. Crysta's Journey (3:00)
• 6. Rainforest Suite (sound effects) (1:13)
• 7. The Leveller (1:38)
• 8. Going to Ferngully (6:58)
• 9. The Grotto Song (4:56)
• 10. I'm Back (4:27)
• 11. The Battle for Old Highrise (3:29)
• 12. Remember Everything (3:02)
• 13. Spirit of the Trees (traditional) (3:41)
• 14. Genesis (2:28)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a political note about the purpose and vision of the film.

  All artwork and sound clips from FernGully: The Last Rainforest are Copyright © 1992, MCA Records. 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 6/23/03 and last updated 4/1/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.