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A Far Off Place
Album Cover Art
1993 Intrada
2014 Intrada
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Produced, and Conducted by:

Orchestrated by:
Frank Bennett
Brad Dechter
Tom Pasatieri
Joel Rosenbaum
Labels Icon
Intrada Records
(April 20th, 1993)

Intrada Records
(December 11th, 2014)
Availability Icon
The 1993 album was a regular U.S. release, but it fell out of print as of 2000. The 2014 Intrada album is a limited product with unknown quantities produced and sold initially for $20.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... only for James Horner's lyrical primary theme if you're a sucker for the grand romanticism that results from the composer's typical expressions on broad strings.

Avoid it... if ten minutes of that pleasant, sometimes impressive lyricism does not merit an entire score of poorly developed instrumentation for the locale and lackadaisical action motifs.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 6/24/97, REVISED 2/6/15
A Far Off Place: (James Horner) While produced by Steven Spielberg's affiliated Amblin Entertainment and Walt Disney Pictures, A Far Off Place was not your usual fluffy children's diversion in 1993. Nor was it any great success with audiences for perhaps that very reason. Many films have been made about unlikely groups of children persevering in adverse conditions, but A Far Off Place takes the genre's inherent series of cliches to all new heights. A South African white girl, American white boy, and young African bushman are forced to trek 2000 kilometers across the Kalahari Desert in Africa after the girl's parents (whom the boy was visiting for the summer) are brutally murdered on their farm by ivory poachers. Instead of traveling to Cape Town or any number of small villages within reasonable range, the film illogically takes them on this long, unrealistic trek and has to rely upon the stereotypical antagonists (in this case, the poachers tracking them in helicopters and attempting to machine gun them down) in order to compensate for their inability to sustain the film with the vistas and character interactions alone. With such a violent storyline, including some graphic slaughter scenes involving elephants, there isn't much for children to enjoy in A Far Off Place. And for adults, the potentially interesting relationship between the youths is sadly underdeveloped (despite a performance by Reese Witherspoon), leaving the film a useless mess. Composer James Horner maintained a consistent working relationship with Spielberg's production company in the early 1990's, leading to his involvement in several of these rather odd children's films. With the wealth of grand locations and other magnificent visual elements in A Far Off Place, the equation would seem to have been set for Horner to pull out an adventure score of significant proportions. While he does venture into the realm of large-scale action and thematic grandeur to acknowledge those expectations, he does so with hesitation and a lack of instrumental imagination that causes his score for the project to linger in the muddy depths of mediocrity. In 1993 and 1994, Horner had a tendency to provide scores for questionable pictures that exhibit the composer in auto-pilot mode, and A Far Off Place unfortunately exhibits the sounds of a man earning a paycheck rather than injecting much passion into the equation. Maybe more could not have been expected of a man cranking out ten major studio film scores per year.

Ratings Icon
Average: 2.9 Stars
***** 29 5 Stars
**** 33 4 Stars
*** 42 3 Stars
** 37 2 Stars
* 35 1 Stars
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was hoping for ****
David Lounsberry - April 12, 2015, at 10:47 a.m.
1 comment  (726 views)
one of my favorites by Horner
B - September 23, 2005, at 10:00 p.m.
1 comment  (2650 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1993 Album: Tracks   ▼Total Time: 40:14
• 1. Main Title (5:17)
• 2. The Slaughter (4:35)
• 3. The Elephants (5:06)
• 4. Attacked From the Air (3:43)
• 5. Gemsbock Gift (2:14)
• 6. The Swamp (3:46)
• 7. "Sandstorm!" (6:58)
• 8. Death in the Mine (2:48)
• 9. Epilogue/End Credits (5:40)
2014 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 75:29

Notes Icon
The inserts of both albums contain information about the score and film, including the following note from executive producer Douglass Fake in the 1993 product:

    "The stunning visuals of A Far Off Place cried for a major score of symphonic proportions James Horner responded with a monumental work, centered around a rich and sweeping primary theme and including some fierce action material. The resulting score to A Far Off Place is rich, serious, sometimes powerful and relentless, sometimes tender, always magnificent.

    Horner was keenly aware of the strong dramatic story line that prevailed amidst the inherent visual images and adventure that unfolded across the Kalahari Desert. His score reflects the tragedy setting the drama into motion, those dangers such a perilous trek would involve and the respect and friendship that blossoms amongst the three youths In pursuit of both safety and justice.

    The picture opens on a peaceful scene of elephants at water, the score introduced by flute and percussion. Poachers appear with rifles, chainsaws. Horner scores this idyllic moment turned violent with a brutal eruption of percussion, piano, low brass and strings. Trumpets against stark piano and chime chords followed by a swelling of strings, soon lead to the first statement of the theme as the "Main Title" appears on screen. Horner returns to quote portions of this theme several times, in a gentle varient to underscore the growing relationships during "Gemsbock Gift" with a bolder stroke for "The Elephants."

    The action sequences are scored in a harsh, often very powerful and dramatic manner. In "The Slaughter" that sets the story into motion, and the following act of retaliation by Nonnie, the scoring is hard, tense, and exciting. In "Attacked from the Air" the score conveys both the action on screen with serious brass and percussion material over racing piano, and the strong drama of Nonnie finding out whom was responsible for the death of her parents.

    In "The Swamp", a highlight of the score, Horner brings to play powerful material for the entire orchestra as Harry and the dog both struggle to survive, all culminating in a spectacular chord, simultaneously major and minor. Harry is snatched out of death's jaws, the dog leaps to safety alongside him, and in a splendid musical moment trumpets burst forth with a resolution to this chord in the major.

    With a happy finale to the adventure, the main theme emerges in a full and complete statement, a rich and sweeping cessation to the story, asoaring and expressive finale to the score."

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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from A Far Off Place are Copyright © 1993, 2014, Intrada Records, Intrada Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/24/97 and last updated 2/6/15.
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