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The House of the Spirits
Composed, Arranged, and Co-Produced:
Hans Zimmer

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Fiachra Trench

Co-Orchestrated and Additional Arrangements by:
Nick Glennie-Smith

Co-Produced by:
Bille August

Virgin Movie Music

Release Date:
January 25th, 1994

Also See:
The Whole Wide World
Smilla's Sense of Snow
Beyond Rangoon

Audio Clips:
1. The House of the Spirits (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (250K)
Real Audio (155K)

2. Clara (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

4. Pedro and Blanca (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

5. Closing Titles (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release, but completely out of print within a few years.


The House of the Spirits

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Sales Rank: 72397

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Buy it... if you seek the more intelligent and sophisticated Hans Zimmer scores that better combine the orchestral and synthesized sides of his talents.

Avoid it... if you need a piece of music to cheer your mood, because this brooding score is about as morbidly depressing as any that Zimmer has composed in his career.

The House of the Spirits: (Hans Zimmer) The violent and terrible tale of the trials and suffering of an aristocratic Chilean family over the course of six decades, The House of the Spirits is not a pleasant film. Bille August adapted Isable Allende's novel into a brutal South American variation of a British character drama, with a rich selection of characters performed with excruciating pain by a stellar cast of big name stars. The film didn't make the waves of August's previous entries, though it performed well in critiques from arthouse circles. Considering the gruesome nature of the story, it is surprising how lyrical and darkly romantic Hans Zimmer's score can be, emphasizing the passion of the story while downplaying the dynamic aspects of political revolution. Despite the death and dismemberment on screen, the score remains as one of Zimmer's softer and more melodic efforts, combining his synthesizers with an orchestra and a touch of South American flavor. The House of the Spirits, due to the threatening undertones from beginning to end, becomes potentially depressing and almost haunting in its music, and yet, a constantly developed set of themes keeps it from becoming burdensome for the listener. The score begins with the patriotic, but subdued anthem that serves as the only major-key theme of the score before the tone takes a slow, dramatic turn in direction. By the end of "The House of the Spirits," the style of the score descends to tragedy, every chord saturated by the minor-key. The score's brooding synthesizers and occasional orchestral solos build up hope every seven or eight minutes in the remaining score, only to be squashed by a sudden let-down and return to brooding depths. It's an easy score to enjoy for a lengthy listening experience on album, as it has the same continuous tone of Smilla's Sense of Snow, but The House of the Spirits offers a fuller range of harmonic development and downright creepy personality. In many ways, it is Zimmer's equivalent in 1993 to Danny Elfman's Sommersby in terms of stylistic restraint, with both scores offering a melodic, but significantly troubled takes on the composers' usual sound of the era.

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The album for The House of the Spirits is arranged in Zimmer's favorite format; there are but a few tracks and all are lengthy suites of artificially merged material. The first two tracks, combining for over 15 minutes of consistent music, create thankless tension and morbidly menacing drama with a genuine sense of dread and seriousness that fans of Zimmer don't often hear from the composer. At points, the score can overwhelm you with melancholy, while other parts made making you nervous enough to believe that there is someone standing behind you with a pick-ax. The recording mix is extremely heavy on the bass, yet the strings often provide an eerie, high-pitched accompaniment of alertness and fright. The environment of The House of the Spirits doesn't feature much of Zimmer's trademark male chorus, but it does utilize trumpet solos and pulsating bass together in such a way that stylistic similarities to Crimson Tide (and the flurry of Media Ventures scores to follow suit) develop. The third track, "Coup," utilizes the sound of gunshots with its rhythms, and the following "Pedro and Blanca" adds acoustic guitars and other ethnic instruments of local flavor. After a scratchy source song performed by Sebastian de Trayier near the start of the final track, Nick Glennie-Smith performs some enticingly depressing piano solos and Zimmer finishes the score with one, last failed attempt to finish the score's primary theme as the volume dies, a parallel that exists in the film. Thus, in its ability to extend the emotions of the film, The House of the Spirits is a very effective score. The heavy and darkly dramatic tone of this score is strangely attractive yet foreboding at the same time. Thematically, it balances a sense of pure beauty with a keen sense of death. Overall, the score can be recommended to those who appreciate the more intelligent and sophisticated Zimmer scores that better combine the orchestral and synthesized sides of his talents. As with other Virgin Records releases of the time, the CD has largely disappeared from stores, though it is readily available on the secondary marketplace at elevated prices. The progression of Zimmer's career into a brighter spotlight has only brought more demand for this hidden gem. It's a very effective and easily digestible score, but don't expect it to cheer you up. **** 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 266,347 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.61 Stars
Smart Average: 3.48 Stars*
***** 141 
**** 132 
*** 71 
** 47 
* 49 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Re: Same moledy as in MI2!!!
  Kevin -- 3/21/05 (7:56 a.m.)
   Same moledy as in MI2!!!
  Gilboa -- 2/15/05 (4:25 p.m.)
   Where are the "Buy it..." and &qu...
  Mark F. -- 12/11/04 (5:46 a.m.)
   Very Good score. A must buy. *NM*
  Levente Benedek -- 9/11/03 (7:49 a.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 43:33

• 1. The House of the Spirits (10:02)
• 2. Clara (6:31)
• 3. Coup (9:34)
• 4. Pedro and Blanca (9:50)
• 5. Clara's Ghost/La Paloma*/Closing Titles (7:24)

* traditional song performed by Sebastian de Trayier

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from The House of the Spirits are Copyright © 1994, Virgin Movie Music. 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 7/18/98 and last updated 9/9/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1998-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.