Movie Soundtrack

American Flyer

Musical Score Composed By: Mark Kilian

Distributed By: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I get excited every time I receive a musical score composed by Mark Kilian.  The South African composer blends orchestral music with exotic instruments and vocalizations to create a unique sound.  Every single new musical score Kilian creates is vastly different from the one before it.  I’ve truly enjoyed every score by Kilian that I have received - The Least Among You, Legacy, La Mission, The Bird Can’t Fly - each perfectly suited to the movie it was created for.  I recently received the musical score of American Flyer and couldn’t wait to take a listen.

            In American Flyer, Douglas Spain is Bondo, a poor young man whose father is killed while attempting to cross the border at Tijuana, Mexico to send money home to his family.  Setting out on his own, Bondo is met by many setbacks, including Tijuana’s Chief of Police.  After a foiled attempt at crossing the border the usual way, Bondo decides to take a more outrageous approach, constructing a flying machine to take him over the border and on the path of his father’s dreams.  But will his construction actually fly and if it can, will he even get it off the ground before the police chief can stop him?

            Before composing the musical score of American Flyer, Mark Kilian decided to do some research, going to Tijuana, Mexico and “soaking up the sounds of the streets, bars, bullfights, parties and life in general. One can always hear music in TJ and unlike most parts of the world the majority of it is live and played by real people.”  His research efforts paid off and the soundtrack of American Flyer is rich with Mexican flavor.  The rich sounds of trumpets, violins, guitars are quite evident throughout the score. 

            As always, Kilian creates a mix of exotic and orchestral, adding traditional Mexican instruments to those of a regular orchestra.  He also adds a unique touch with a mournful whistled tune, first heard on Bienvenidos a Tijuana and used on a couple of tracks later in the soundtrack.  A female vocalization is used on this soundtrack as well, enhancing the music and adding feeling to each track in which it appears.  Percussions are featured heavily on this album and often denote moments of danger for Bondo such as in Tijuana Tire Run and All Along the Border

            One particularly interesting and comical composition wends its way throughout the entire album.  Illegal Immigration Guide, parts 1-3, are three rather unique tracks featuring what sounds like a tuba and some other horns creating almost a comical march-like sound.  As each of these three tracks play, the music becomes more involved and more instruments are added. 

            The final tracks of the American Flyer Soundtrack, De Tijuana a Santa Monica and From TJ With Love!, contain the theme of the score set to a dance beat, probably inspired by the Tijuana clubs that Kilian visited while conducting his research.  I couldn’t help tapping to the beat and nodding my head to the rhythm while the music played.  It was a nice, positive way to wrap up the soundtrack giving the listener hope as to Bondo’s fate.

            As always, Mark Kilian’s scoring has hit the mark.  The American Flyer Soundtrack is fun to listen to without even knowing anything about the film it was created for.  That makes it a great stand alone album.  But once you learn about the movie itself, you realize that Kilian has created the perfect score to enhance the scenes in the film.  Goes to show what research and a uniquely creative scoring ability can produce - a soundtrack well worth listening to.


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