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Michael Collins
Composed and Co-Orchestrated by:
Elliot Goldenthal

Conducted by:
Jonathan Sheffer

Co-Orchestrated by:
Robert Elhei

Produced by:
Matthias Gohl

Vocals by:
Sinead O'Connor

Atlantic Classics

Release Date:
October 1st, 1996

Also See:
Interview with a Vampire
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Audio Clips:
2. Fire and Arms (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (266K)
Real Audio (165K)

10. Boland Returns (Kitty's Waltz) (0:32):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

17. She Moved Through the Fair (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (248K)
Real Audio (154K)

18. Funeral/Coda (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

Regular U.S. release, but out of print as of 2002.

  Nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

Michael Collins

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Sales Rank: 163093

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Buy it... if you have little interest in Elliot Goldenthal's dissonant, postmodern tendencies and instead seek one of the composer's more lyrical and harmonic listening experiences.

Avoid it... if you expect most of this score to be a picnic in the park, for it maintains an understandably weighty and downright ominous tone through all but two or three cues.

Michael Collins: (Elliot Goldenthal) Writer and director Neil Jordan reportedly held the story of Michael Collins in such high regard that he worked on it for thirteen years, eventually submitting it in the mid-1990's when he finally had the stature to make the film with the kind of surrounding talent he deemed necessary to ensure its success. The topic of the historic events of the formation of Ireland, the birth of the IRA, and the ensuing civil war of 1922 caused significant consternation at the time that Warner Brothers distributed the picture, though Michael Collins has always maintained a strong response from critics who overlook the minor alterations of historical fact and praise the outstanding performances by the cast. The production also proved once again that young, classical crossover composer Elliot Goldenthal was a genuine force to be reckoned with in Hollywood, with Michael Collins garnering him his second Academy Award nomination. While Goldenthal would not win the award in the decade (nor would he even be nominated again in the 1990's), the recognition that came with this score and Interview with a Vampire earned him a ticket to his eventual win for Frida. While Goldenthal had been criticized by the older generations of film score collectors for what may appear on the surface as a haphazard method of postmodern style in his writing, the composer has always produced a small handful of scores during all times in his career that stand apart as being among the best of their respective years. Along with Interview with a Vampire, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Frida, and (perhaps arguably) Heat, Michael Collins is one such entry that is strong enough, in fact, to finish in the top five scores of 1996 on many lists. Strangely, though, when you hear Goldenthal fans banter about their favorite scores by the composer, Michael Collins is only occasionally mentioned, and you have to wonder if the composer's embracing of a more harmonic stance in the score, in the process of opening it up to a wider general listening audience, disappointed Goldenthal's hardcore followers.

The story of the Easter Rebellion and the Irish struggles in the streets required a score that is far more lyrical than Goldenthal's action and horror scores had been. Works such as Batman Forever and Alien 3 utilized an often dissonant sound, without harmony in key sequences and shrill in the brass section, and the previous year's Heat had used starkly effective, but chilly instrumental combinations that would not suit a character story as dramatic as this one. In Michael Collins, little of Goldenthal's obvious postmodern style is evident, and the somewhat mainstream sound could be considered a precursor of the even more robust Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The balance between sweeping themes of independence, delicate piano solos, and the incorporation of female vocals is well handled in Michael Collins, presenting a sense of straightforward lyricism that was relatively rare for the composer at the time. The scenes of fighting and raids are understandably troublesome, as Goldenthal allows himself to slip into a few 2-minute sequences of dissonant sound (led by the awful "Football Match") that reside in his career's comfort zone. But the greater mass of this score consists of harmonious statements of theme and pulsating underscore. It is noble music in stature, leading to a grand anthem at the end. The highlights of the score, however (just as in Final Fantasy), are the softer cues of melody performed by a solo trumpet or piano, such as "Train Station Farewell" and "Boland Returns (Kitty's Waltz)," which are nearly unrecognizable compared to Goldenthal's norm; in fact, the soft piano work in the former cue almost resembles the warmth and simple progressions of a typical Randy Edelman theme, which should come as something of a shock to the ears of any veteran film music collector. The score's two other thematic elements aren't as obvious, but they both offer a much stronger dramatic punch. The first is the theme of conflict and its inherent tragedy, presented beautifully and with resounding resolve in "Easter Rebellion." The second is the propulsive action rhythm heard first in the impressive "Fire and Arms." The first three tracks on the album present all of these main ideas in succession and are an undeniably powerful trio.

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The "Funeral/Coda" cue at the end of the film and album is a remarkably compelling string piece, offering the culmination of an album that continues to build steam until its last moments. The ethnic, operatic romance piece at the end of the album is no less enjoyable (even with the dreaded accordion), providing one last reminder of the locale of the story. Most importantly, Goldenthal accomplishes two important things with Michael Collins. First, he manages to insert enough Irish influence into the score without beating the listener over the head with it, as James Horner has been known to do. The ethnic instrumentation is applied with a light touch, and the action scenes largely include the full orchestra mixed in the forefront with the addition of one or two soloists on the pipes or whistle at a distance. Secondly, Goldenthal successfully incorporates very heavy strings and a weighty bass without becoming distractingly brooding, as Basil Poledouris does at times in the nearly concurrent Les Misérables. The sense of gravity and importance of the title character and the burden of an entire people is handled well by Goldenthal's bass region. The most likely reason this score was nominated for an Oscar, though, was the obvious use of Sinead O'Connor for the vocals in three pivotal scenes. The first two appearances by the popular singer are mostly wordless accompaniment to the full orchestra, but her final performance, in "She Moved Though the Fair," is a solemn classical song, weaving in and out of Goldenthal's interludes of underscore. While the mass of superior music on the Michael Collins album cannot be attributed to her, the contribution she makes helped it become a mainstream attraction. The opening track, "Easter Rebellion," is a masterful combination of all of the aforementioned elements, along with an ethereal choir, to produce a monumentally emotional and ominous introduction to the score. Overall, Michael Collins remains one of Goldenthal's strongest compositions to date, and it sustains itself for most of the duration of its powerful album. There are a few singular cues of troubled, dissonant noise, as to be expected from Goldenthal, but such moments are minimal compared to the beauty of the score's major thematic statements. As such, Michael Collins is a good score with which to start a Goldenthal collection. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Elliot Goldenthal reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 16 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.07 (in 15,601 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.53 Stars
Smart Average: 3.4 Stars*
***** 157 
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    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 47:12

• 1. Easter Rebellion* (3:15)
• 2. Fire and Arms (1:41)
• 3. Train Station Farewell (1:56)
• 4. Winter Raid (2:38)
• 5. Elegy for a Sunday (3:07)
• 6. Football Match (1:50)
• 7. On Cats Feet (4:28)
• 8. Defiance and Arrest (1:50)
• 9. Train to Granard (1:31)
• 10. Boland Returns (Kitty's Waltz) (1:19)
• 11. His Majesty's Finest (2:11)
• 12. Boland's Death (1:39)
• 13. Home to Cork (1:19)
• 14. Civil War* (2:10)
• 15. Collin's Proposal (1:25)
• 16. An Anthem Deferred (1:45)
• 17. She Moved Through the Fair* (4:57)
• 18. Funeral/Coda (4:33)
• 19. Macushla (traditional) (3:29)

* includes performances by Sinead O'Connor

 Notes and Quotes:  

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

  All artwork and sound clips from Michael Collins are Copyright © 1996, Atlantic Classics. 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 10/24/96 and last updated 9/16/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.