Desert Dancer

Musical Score By: Benjamin Wallfisch

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Based on a true story, Desert Dancer follows the story of Afshin Ghaffarian, a self-taught dancer living in Iran during a time when dancing is forbidden.  During the 2009 presidential election and the volatile climate surrounding it, Afshin (Reece Ritchie) and some friends risk their lives to create an underground dance company.   This is a dangerous undertaking and yet, Afshin and his friends, find enjoyment and passion in their art.  But can Afshin maintain the dance company or will the political climate force him to forsake all he loves?

                The musical score of Desert Dancer was created by British composer Benjamin Wallfisch who made his debut at the age of twenty-four with the musical score for Dear Wendy.  Since then, Wallfisch has created the musical scores for such notable films as The Escapist, Hours, Summer in February, Hammer of the Gods, The Thirteenth Tale, Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain, Within and Auschwitz.

                To say that Wallfisch was happy to be working on the score for Desert Dancer is an understatement.  According to the composer: ďIím so grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Richard, Akram and the entire creative team on this beautiful movie. Richard managed to turn a powerful and important story about the state of freedom of expression in Iran into an inspirational statement of the power of art to give people a sense of freedom, no matter what their circumstance. Afshin Ghaffarian remains one of the most inspirational individuals Iíve met and it was an honor to have been invited to help tell his story through music

                The Desert Dancer Soundtrack features a rather artistic score that begins with a strings theme.  There always seems to be a dichotomy of emotions going on in each track.  Often times, tracks begin with a sense of beauty and joy, but then a breath of sadness or a spark of anguish moves in.  Such is the case with Afshin's Theme.  Wallfisch blends in some exotic sound amongst the traditional orchestral instrumentation to define the locale of the film. 

                All-in-all, the Desert Dancer Soundtrack makes for quite the interesting listen.  Without knowing anything about this film, I found myself picturing what might be taking place in the film.  I found the string pieces rather striking and quite beautiful.  Having now discovered what the film is about, I can see how the music can be inspirational as well, when placed together with footage from the film.  An excellent musical score and well-worth a listen.


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