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Comments about the soundtrack for Ronin (Elia Cmiral)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: Richard (Anonymous)   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Sunday, May 3, 2009, at 7:41 a.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by "Richard" was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in May, 2009)

Ronin: (Elia Cmiral) Elia Cmiral, a relative newcomer to Hollywood has composed a truly sophisticated, intelligent and atmospheric score for John Frankenheimer's Ronin. Having worked on only Apartment Zero and some episodes of the Don Johnson T.V. series "Nash Bridges," this was perhaps the perfect way for Cmiral to generate a name for himself in the art of film scoring. The central theme of the film (Ronin Theme) is performed on a Japanese woodwind instrument called a Duduk, and is an exceptionally solemn piece perfectly captures the personalities and emotions of the centeral characters, in particular, their loneliness and isolation. This main theme is used throughout on every "quiet" track, and always fulfills its role well. Much of the score is suspense music, "waiting music" that adds to the tension on-screen, with many cymbol rolls and crescendos, both on percussion and brass. Many small outbursts of brass are heard in the tracks which display this style of music utilising accented and sticattoed notes, with syncopation present for a vast ammount of the time.

The first of the action cues, is Track 6 "The Getaway", which essentially is a percussive piece, however, use of strings and strong brass give it some extra power which drives it. One thing that is interesting to notice, is that in all the action cues where Cmiral's use of percussion is vital, we hear little or no Timpani's. This struck me as being unusual as most modern Hollywood score that use an orchestra use them. Instead, we are given a drum kit which does work very effectively. A strange synthesizer sound is used in every track, although seems very noticable in Track 15, "This is the Day" (which may be a wrong title name, because the scene in which features this music, the major car chase, is before Robert De Niro as Sam says....."This is the Day".) which is the major piece of action music on the CD and the longest track. This piece produces some very new and enjoyable harmonies between the various brass intruments and strings. Track 18 "Gunfight at the Amphitheater" is another major action cue which once again relies heavily on percussion and crescendos of the brass to create the mood of the piece....a fast paced action romp! Tremelos by the violins and chromatic movement on the lower end of a piano (which is very faint) add to the suspensful style of the piece, which together, all works exrtemely well both on and off screen. Track 22, "Wrong Way" is an excellent piece of Chase music, again boasting the heavy use of brass, percussion and those stange synthersiser sounds, this track also introduces some tuned percussion to play one of the melodies. Track 23, "Sam Goes for the Case" is yet another action cue, yet this piece included very much dissonance on the strings. In previous tracks this effect is heard mainly on brass instruments.

After Track 25, "You're a Dead Man," slowly fades away, we are treated to the finale music, "Good Knowing You", which plays the Ronin theme again, however having some parts of the accompaniment this time being major, it makes the unsettled feeling of the whole score seem resolved. The last theme is one of the most beautiful and uplifting themes heard in a film score in recent years. It is a shame it only lasts 55 seconds, as this truly demonstrates Cmiral's talent at creating sweeping orchestral music. As the score concludes with the familiar Ronin theme and that un-namable synthesiser noise, we are reminded (and especially when watching the film) that the situation at hand for the film's characters, while it may seem is over, really is not... once again, depicting the lonliness of such a job. Overall, I was wonderfully pleased with the score for Ronin, which is marvelously balanced between action and dramatic pieces. Cmiral has a rare skill at being able to create both equally well. For fans of the film, good original film music, and as stand-alone compositions in their own right, I would highly recommend the score for Ronin because it is a refreshing change from some of the cliches of modern day action film scores. My only problem with this recording is track 11, "Carousel For Little Tamao," seems dreadfully out of place, and is an annoying piece of circus music, however even that cannot ruin this wonderful score. *****

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rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. Scoreboard created 7/24/98 and last updated 4/25/15.