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Soul Surfer
Album Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:

Additional Music by:
Marcus Trumpp

Co-Produced by:
Buck Sanders
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Madison Gate Records
(April 20th, 2011)
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Regular U.S. release, primarily distributed via download but also available through's "CDr on demand" service.
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Decorative Nonsense
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if originality is your desire, for rarely do you hear traditional Hawaiian chants beautifully integrated into an inspirational, instrumentally creative and occasionally robust dramatic score.

Avoid it... if the idea of hearing absolutely nothing resembling Marco Beltrami's usual mannerisms makes you nervous about exploring this surprising and tremendous expansion of his career into the realm of melodramatic, tonal beauty.
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WRITTEN 7/7/11
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Soul Surfer: (Marco Beltrami) A project of passion for its filmmakers, Soul Surfer is a biographical depiction long in the making about Bethany Hamilton, a young female surfer in Hawaii whose arm is bitten off by a shark in 2003 but who, in defiance of the odds, returns to the surf board and eventually turns pro in the sport. The 2011 production of this particular famous story has been awaited for years, and the script of Soul Surfer underwent several years of expansion while director Sean McNamara and the other filmmakers struggled to seek funding for the project. At odds with the studio was the Christian faith obnoxiously pushed in story, the bible and praises of God referenced regularly; although the studio was initially worried about attracting secular audiences to Soul Surfer, the success of The Blind Side in 2009 affirmed the possibility of crossover appeal in the sports genre. The most challenging production aspect of the film was the digital removal of the left arm of lead actress AnnaSophia Robb in 450 different shots, though the finished release managed to gross twice its final budget theatrically. Although appealing effectively to a younger female demographic, Soul Surfer was infused with a tad too many Hollywood cliches of a melodramatic nature for some critics to handle, leading to mixed reviews. One of these clearly saccharine aspects of the movie is the original score by Marco Beltrami, an unlikely man for the job, perhaps, but ultimately the right one. Known primarily for his horror and psychological drama scores, Beltrami isn't exactly the composer one would expect to see attached to a lighter redemptive drama in the sports genre. He has shown glimpses of tonal greatness in brief passages throughout his career, the most memorable such music in a mainstream assignment coming in 2009's Knowing. But when you hear Soul Surfer, you'll encounter a side of Beltrami that most film collectors will not have heard in such acoustic and beautiful harmony. He thankfully approaches the movie from a very smart standpoint of addressing all of the film's underlying themes rather than emphasizing one over the other.

Dozens of composers could have provided this film with extremely simplistic background rhythms of a contemporary nature, even composers like Trevor Rabin and Gustavo Santaolalla. But Beltrami is seemingly inspired by the topic to such a degree that he wisely tackled the full range of concepts with native chants for the Hawaiian culture, beauty from a choir for the religious side, piano and guitar contemplation for a healing family, and large orchestral ensemble for the expanse of the ocean and surfing competitions. Together, the four disparate ingredients in the Soul Surfer score are brought together brilliantly by Beltrami to form a cohesive whole with a satisfying narrative flow. The most striking emphasis of these four is placed on the inclusion of several Hawaiian chants (known historically as a "mele"), some of which assembled for performances specific to this recording while others adapted into an original background mix with the orchestra. Beltrami contracted with Lowell Edgar to assemble a small group of roughly eight Hawaiian singers capable of enunciating the native chants pulled together from a number of traditional sources by Amy Stillman. The texts that form the resulting lyrics come from hundreds of years through history, and those chosen for Soul Surfer are appropriate for the roughly half a dozen scenes in which they are heard. While some of these texts glorify the location as expected, some specifically relate to surfing and the most powerful, a deep, throaty male chant in "Shark Attack," is frightfully ominous in its meaning. Most listeners to the score won't care about the precision of these lyrics, but they are just one example of the care that went into this music. The small ensemble vocal performances range from the mostly female tones of the upbeat location chants to the two aforementioned male contributions in the bass to represent the evils of the ocean and Bethany's conquering of it. A larger, more general choral cooing is occasionally called upon as well, most likely to represent the religious aspect of the story, "Hymn For Bethany" and the more somber "Phuket" using streamlined tones (dominated by either women or children's voices) that will remind of early James Horner children's scores.

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Average: 3.86 Stars
***** 111 5 Stars
**** 71 4 Stars
*** 41 3 Stars
** 27 2 Stars
* 17 1 Stars
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Beltrami Tradtion
ShinjiGumballKodai - May 8, 2017, at 10:54 a.m.
1 comment  (430 views)
Wow.   Expand >>
Dean - September 3, 2011, at 10:30 p.m.
2 comments  (1961 views)
Newest: September 4, 2011, at 1:46 p.m. by
Rick R
I didn't see this coming!   Expand >>
hewhomustnotbenamed - September 2, 2011, at 5:00 a.m.
2 comments  (1912 views)
Newest: September 2, 2011, at 8:12 p.m. by
Dave Norlin

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 45:34
• 1. Main Titles (2:34)
• 2. Turtle Bay Surfing (2:12)
• 3. Fireworks (0:35)
• 4. Shark Attack (6:22)
• 5. Alana Visits Bethany (1:18)
• 6. Homecoming (1:59)
• 7. Dark Day (3:38)
• 8. Back in the Water (2:38)
• 9. Trying to Get Out (2:03)
• 10. Bethany and Dad (2:20)
• 11. Phuket (1:20)
• 12. Half Pint Boards (2:53)
• 13. Hymn for Bethany (2:24)
• 14. Welcome to the Nationals (1:28)
• 15. Big Drum Competition (3:09)
• 16. Paddle Battle (1:51)
• 17. Bethany's Wave (3:26)
• 18. Awards (1:59)
• 19. Bethany Gives Thanks (1:25)

Notes Icon
The insert includes no extra information about the score or film. As in many of's "CDr on demand" products, the packaging smells incredibly foul when new.
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or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Soul Surfer are Copyright © 2011, Madison Gate Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/7/11 (and not updated significantly since).
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