Composed By: Alex Heffes

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Based on actual events, Emperor stars Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas McArthur who, just days after Japan's surrender during World War II, places Brigadier General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) in a very sticky situation.  Fellers is charged with investigating Emperor Hirohito's (Takatarô Kataoka) role in the war.  His findings will ultimately decide whether Hirohito should be tried as a war criminal.

                The musical score of Emperor was created by British film composer Alex Heffes.  After completing his degree at Oxford University, Jeffes went on to write and arrange projects that spanned the musical genre from steel band to symphony orchestra, working with such prominent artists as Elton John and Blur.  Beginning with movie shorts and television series, Heffes' composing career spans almost two decades.  The award winning composer has created scores for such notable films as One Day in September, The Last King of Scotland, Touching the Void, The Rite, Inside Job and Red Riding Hood.

                The music composed for Emperor is orchestral and features a mix of moods.  Without knowing much about the film, one would be hard pressed not to note the militaristic style of some of the tracks, featuring heavy percussion and brass.  Then there are nods toward the locale of the film and the investigation of Hirohito featuring violins, woodwinds, string instruments and percussion instruments native to the region.

                There are very specific themes in this score with Fellers and McArthur represented by the hard-lined military theme and that of exchange student and focal point of Fellers' decision making process Aya.  Aya's theme is soft featuring woodwinds and light piano keys creating a striking contrast with the military aspects of the movie.  There is a point where you realize a romance is blossoming in this film, especially when the themes of Fellers and Aya blend together.

                The Emperor Soundtrack presents an interesting blend of pride filled military might and striking beauty that will make a definite impression on any movie soundtrack aficionado.  I can't speak to the quality of the film, but I can say that the score created for Emperor is well-worth a listen.


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