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Message in a Bottle
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Co-Produced, and Performed by:
Gabriel Yared

Co-Orchestrated by:
Robert Randles

Conducted by:
Harry Rabinowitz

Co-Produced by:
John Bell

Vocals Performed by:
Jenny O'Grady and The Metro Voices

Atlantic Records

Release Date:
April 20th, 1999

Also See:
The English Patient

Audio Clips:
8. Finding the Bottle (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

11. Where the Boundaries Are (0:32):
WMA (209K)  MP3 (258K)
Real Audio (160K)

14. Storm (0:31):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (157K)

17. Last Letter (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release. The song compilation (with a fraction of Yared's material) was released a few months prior.


Message in a Bottle

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Sales Rank: 84927

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Buy it... if you are looking for one score with which to first represent Gabriel Yared in your film music collection, for this work extends both the style of his restrained classicism and a warmer set of accessible themes.

Avoid it... if you expect outward melodrama in the employment of orchestra and choir for the mysteries of fate and the ocean, for Yared maintains a more contemplative atmosphere throughout the score.

Message in a Bottle: (Gabriel Yared) While the cast and crew of Message in a Bottle may be almost completely different from that of The English Patient a few years prior, the audiences for the romantic tragedies are largely the same. The best-selling novel was faithfully adapted and decently shot by Luis Mandoki and acted by Kevin Costner, Robin Wright Penn, and Paul Newman. Penn plays a journalist who finds a love letter in a bottle on a New England beach and, through some public methods of collecting other letters from the same source, eventually tracks them down to a lovesick Costner, who is recovering from the death of his wife while repairing boats on the Carolina coast. While both leads are adequate, the film relies heavily on its supporting performances, including that of Newman. The film's nebulous conveyance of the genre's most potent, tear-jerking tendencies causes Message in a Bottle to be a contemporary version of The English Patient, and these parallels extend to Gabriel Yared's two scores for the films. Although the score for The English Patient won an Academy Award a few years prior, there was practically no warmth to it at all, diminishing its technical assets and leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many film score collectors. Predictably, Message in a Bottle is constructed with many of the same basic instrumental elements and a nearly identical aversion of outward melodrama. The interesting difference between the two is the far more engaging nature of the latter score, however, with better-developed themes and performances that don't refrigerate the room with their chilly distance. The outward harmony in the themes is really the primary reason for the success of Message in a Bottle over the previous work, and the blend of classical restraint and contemporary reflection brings Yared's work for City of Angels into the mix as well. Listeners familiar and comfortable with Yared's style of chamber formality will hear enough material to make Message in a Bottle a comfortable listening experience, and, conversely, those looking for a more lively and diverse sound from the composer will also be pleased. It really is a very strong blend of multiple Yared techniques.

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Three highly attractive themes are woven throughout the score, at times offering the stark atmosphere of the romance theme from The English Patient while at other times eluding to the broad strokes of John Barry or the intimacy of Elmer Bernstein. The first theme to be heard represents fate (or the ocean, both of which are interchangeable in the film) and its rising structure is given significant depth by the numerous choral mixes added to the ensemble during its performances. Initially announced at the end of "To All the Ships at Sea," this theme is gorgeously rendered in "Finding The Bottle" and "Last Letter," and a variant for truly ethereal and somewhat spooky choir is explored in "Images of the Past" and "Some Lives Form a Perfect Circle." The second theme heard in Message in a Bottle is arguably its main one, used extensively in "New Dreams" and reprised in four or five subsequent cues. This optimistic theme is often performed by strings and solo woodwind in the same tones as The English Patient, but with a far more spirited personality here. The third theme is easily the most pretty, and its limited performances are a disappointment. Representing Penn's character, this theme is offered elegantly on piano in "Theresa" and is unleashed on acoustic guitar in "Where The Boundaries Are." This latter cue is more bubbly and affable than anything else on the album, and is a surprising highlight. The score rotates freely between these thematic ideas, providing the kind of listening experience delightful in its subtle orchestration and occasional journeys into more readily accessible harmony. The piano can sometimes slow the pace to a crawl, but the alternating contributions by guitar and voices (both ensemble and solo) are always welcome. On album, the score starts relatively slowly, presenting the three main themes in far more understated, pleasant, and non-confrontational fashion than later renderings. The last five cues are more mysterious and powerful (in an almost eerie, contemplative way) than most of the work in Yared's career. A solid mix of the recording places the orchestral ensemble far in front of the choir while the piano and guitar are clearly distinguished; the layering is very well handled. This 48-minute score-only album followed an earlier song compilation (also released by Atlantic) that didn't do this score justice. Overall, Message in a Bottle remains near or at the top of the list of recommendations for a listener wishing to investigate Yared's work for the first time. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Gabriel Yared reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.11 (in 10 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.27 (in 18,228 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 4 Stars
Smart Average: 3.74 Stars*
***** 1628 
**** 1134 
*** 621 
** 272 
* 153 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Message in a Bottle Formula
  Bruno Costa -- 3/16/11 (6:46 a.m.)
   Agreed. This deserves 5 stars. *NM*
  thw -- 5/9/09 (9:54 p.m.)
   C'mon there's no doubt it is a 5-star **NM ...
  Sherlock -- 3/7/08 (7:12 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 48:26

• 1. To All the Ships at Sea (4:07)
• 2. New Dreams (3:05)
• 3. Separate Lives (1:35)
• 4. Theresa (3:03)
• 5. Launch (1:41)
• 6. Images of the Past (1:52)
• 7. Blue Atlantic Mystery (2:02)
• 8. Finding the Bottle (3:18)
• 9. Tell Me About Catherine (2:45)
• 10. Some Lives Form a Perfect Circle (2:39)
• 11. Where the Boundaries Are (2:58)
• 12. Sail With Me Tonight (3:17)
• 13. The One Person in the World (2:20)
• 14. Storm (4:31)
• 15. Calm After Storm (2:17)
• 16. The Outer Banks (2:35)
• 17. Last Letter (4:14)

 Notes and Quotes:  

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

  All artwork and sound clips from Message in a Bottle are Copyright © 1999, Atlantic 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 4/11/99 and last updated 5/18/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1999-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.