Composed By: James Horner

Vocal Solos By: Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Produced by: Hollywood Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


           Academy Award filmmaker Mel Gibson has a thing for both historic and controversial films.  When making films like The Passion of Christ and Braveheart, films whose histories are hard to track and somewhat theorized, it is important that cinematography and music create an ambiance that makes the action in the film wholly believable.  Thus, Gibson chose James Horner to create the soundtrack for his latest film, Apocalypto, a movie about one manís journey during the fall of the Mayan civilization.

            James Horner has been writing composition for films since 1980.  Known as an extremely versatile composer, Horner has provided musical scores for such diverse movies as Casper, Patriot Games, The Perfect Storm, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, Titanic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Troy,Flightplan and more.  For Titanic, Hornerís composition took on a very ethnic feel Ė the bagpipes, the flutes, the haunting vocals Ė all came together to produce a very unique sound.  The composition of Apocalypto takes on a very different ethnic feel.  Horner intersperses flutes and other unusual instruments to bring the audience a sound that is very Native American in nature.

            The movie, Apocalypto, takes place toward the end of the Mayan civilization.  Noting the decline of the empire, the rulers decide that more temples and sacrifices will bring back the power the Mayans were once renowned for.  A young man, Jaguar Paw, becomes one of those selected for sacrifice, but love for his woman and his family causes him to rebel against his rulers and escape.  The soundtrack chronicles his journey from happiness to fear, from captivity to escape, from horror to freedom.  The album, like the movie, comes full circle, beginning with a track entitled From the Forest and ending with the track To the Forest, as Jaguar Paw returns to his people in hopes of resuming his former way of life.

            The soundtrack begins peacefully, with birds singing and Native American-inspired music.  The music soon begins to build and become quite spooky as the vocals ofRahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are added.  Listeners may find much of the soundtrack to be reminiscent of that of Mortal Kombatís interludes between fight scenes.  The tracks are mysterious, but build in tempo and ferocity as the plight of the main character becomes more inescapable.  As Jaguar Paw makes his escape, the music builds in crescendo, enforcing the life-changing significance of his decision.  As Jaguar Paw becomes one of the hunted, the music takes on a sense of urgency, which is only quelled in track number 12, appropriately titled No Longer the Hunted.  The final track is reminiscent of the opening track.  However, we sense some differences, which seem to tell the listener that Jaguar Paw was not totally able to get back all that he lost upon escaping the sacrifice.

            The soundtrack of Apocalypto is powerfully engaging, despite its spooky moments.  With Apocalypto, James Horner did what he does best: tell a story that can stand alone without visual stimulus.  In other words, the listener can imagine the story the music is telling without ever having actually seen the movie for which it was composed.  James Horner, as always, has emerged victorious.  Apocalypto is a soundtrack worthy of the epic film for which it was created.


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