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Section Header
Composed and Orchestrated by:
Bruno Coulais

Conducted by:
Laurent Petitgirard

Performed by:
Paris Philharmonic Orchestra

Sony Music (France)

Release Date:
March 23rd, 2010

Also See:
Winged Migration

Audio Clips:
10. Danses (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

12. L'Arrivee des Araignees (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

13. A l'Aventure (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

17. Les Massacres (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Commercial French release, available as an import in America for $30.



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Buy it... if you seek a competent, occasionally impressive compliment to George Fenton's popular music of similar expansive scope for nature documentaries of the last ten years.

Avoid it... if you expect to hear either the exotic instrumental creativity of Bruno Coulais' Winged Migration or a distinct thematic flow through a score that is instead carried by three or four immensely superior cues of individual character.

Oceans: (Bruno Coulais) More than a decade after the British reinvigorated the genre of nature documentary, films and series with spectacular photography and a pro-environment message continue to illuminate the majesty of the planet and generate decent profits. Disney created a subsidiary called Disneynature to distribute the best of European nature documentaries in America, the first being the BBC production of Earth in 2008 and following with the slightly less fiscally successful but still impressive French film Oceans for Earth Day in 2010. The latter was directed and produced by Oscar-winner Jacques Perrin, who used $66 million dollars to coordinate four years of filming in over 50 different locales around the Earth to capture wildlife in the oceans and the detrimental affects of human filth on their existence. The American version distributed by Disney was sanitized for young audiences, removing 20 minutes of material and utilizing the services of Pierce Brosnan as narrator. Always a highlight of these documentaries has been their musical scores, an element of the productions that often became, like the narrator, an overarching central character of consistency. With George Fenton in the lead, these projects throughout the 2000's have also allowed, like their strictly IMAX predecessors, for grandiose symphonic scores of immense scope and instrumental diversity. After all, such incredible visuals deserve the richest of music, and fortunately, the long, flowing format of most of these films' scenes also yields lengthy, concert-like development of interesting motifs. It was no surprise that Perrin sought the services of composer Bruno Coulais for Oceans; their collaboration over the past ten years includes the bird documentary Winged Migration and the Academy Award nominated music for The Chorus in 2004. Coulais' career has been slowing gaining international recognition since, especially with his work for the cult favorite Coraline. In all of these assignments, Coulais has demonstrated senses for both lyrical beauty and instrumental creativity, the latter often extending to devious levels. No better a canvas for this merging of melody and diversity exists than these grand environmental documentaries, and the composer does not disappoint. It's not likely that his music for Oceans will supplant Fenton's at the forefront of awareness for soundtrack collectors, but it's a strong entry with a few stunning, standout cues that make its album a more enjoyable listening experience than the less accessible, sound effects-riddled Winged Migration.

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One of the inevitable aspects of these documentary scores is a slightly schizophrenic character when appreciated outside of context, for different locations and species require starkly disparate tones in their music. This is once again the case with Oceans, though not to the obvious, genre-hopping extent that Fenton's scores sometimes exhibit. The instrumentation for Coulais is largely consistent, employing a dynamic orchestra and accenting it with eerie synthetic tones for moments of mystery and a touch of vocals for three distinctive cues. The latter varies from straight choral accompaniment of the ensemble ("Les Massacres") to Coraline-like distorted children's solo ("Etranges Creatures"), old-fashioned lyrical singing in English ("Ocean Will"), and a creepy, hidden children's vocal at the very end of the album. Glassy synthetic effects define "Le Recif de Jour" while awkward dissonant bass distortion a la Brad Fiedel produces discomfort in "L'Arrivee des Araignees." Harp dominates the minimalistic atmosphere of "Le Festin de l'Ocean." Violin rhythms similar to James Newton Howard's The Village grace "Le Temps des Decouvertes" and "A l'Aventure." Massive brass in "La Cavalerie des Dauphins" over frantic string ostinatos is a highlight. Thematically, Coulais fails to really define the score with a single primary identity, through there are three themes that are all effectively developed on their own in multiple cues. The opening "La Fusee" introduces two of them, concluding with a swelling string and harp idea that elegantly switches between minor and major modes; this theme bookends the score by closing out "Aquarium" in similar fashion. Before that theme in "La Fusee" is a brief reference on xylophone to a theme that carries the entirety of "Danses" and is reprised in an echo in "Disparus." The "Danses" cue is one of the score's most memorable, its waltz dancing with a clever, twisted allure that sounds like a cross between the famous The Addams Family theme and the Hedwig theme from John Williams' original Harry Potter score. The final theme in Oceans is its dramatic powerhouse, combining harp with haunting mixed chorus and full orchestra in a distinctly sea-faring tribute to the ominous aspect of the ocean's power in "Les Massacres." This theme becomes the song "Ocean Will" at the end of the soundtrack, and Coulais' application of varied vocal tones in these two pieces is masterful. Together, these cues of thematic development are fantastic highlights worth the attention of any film score collector, but Oceans is still, on the whole, a bit nebulous in its narrative. Those memorable cues make the hour long album (sans the American version's Demi Lovato/Joe Jonas song duet) a solid recommendation, though due to the product's origins in France, expect to pay import prices elsewhere. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

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 Track Listings: Total Time: 61:12

• 1. La Fusee (3:04)
• 2. La Cavalerie des Dauphins (2:27)
• 3. Le Festin de l'Ocean (0:44)
• 4. Le Temps des Decouvertes (2:31)
• 5. La Danse des Dauphins (1:19)
• 6. L'Eveil (3:03)
• 7. Les Otaries (2:14)
• 8. Le Nouveau Monde (1:37)
• 9. Le Recif de Nuit (3:58)
• 10. Danses (4:00)
• 11. Le Recif de Jour (1:57)
• 12. L'Arrivee des Araignees (2:05)
• 13. A l'Aventure (3:38)
• 14. Cavalerie Sous la Mer (3:01)
• 15. Le Nouvel Ocean (4:24)
• 16. Jusqu'a la Source (1:41)
• 17. Les Massacres (5:18)
• 18. Disparus (3:44)
• 19. Etranges Creatures (1:54)
• 20. Aquarium (2:43)
• 21. Ocean Will (6:04)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film. Its credits are in French.

  All artwork and sound clips from Oceans are Copyright © 2010, Sony Music (France). 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 7/2/10 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2010-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.