White Lion

Music Composed by: Philip Miller

Distributed by: Moviescore Media

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            White Lion is a short film about a white lionís survival in the African wilderness.  Extremely rare, the birth of the white lion cub known as Letsatsi serves as a ray of hope for one Shangaan.  According to the legend of a Shangaan, white lions are messengers of the gods and Gisani vows to protect this rare lion cub at all costs.  As time passes, Letsatsi is cast out of his pride and must fend for himself.  Roaming the African wilderness alone and near starvation, he comes upon an older lion and the two become friends.  Meanwhile, Gisani hires on as a tracker for a local hunter who is bent on hunting down a white lion.  Can Gisani maintain his vow to protect Letsatsi or will Letsatsi be struck down by one of the many perils of the African wilderness before he reaches adulthood?

            There is very little dialogue in the movie White Lion.  Much of the story is told through the visual aspects of the film.  Thus, it would be essential to have a musical score that aided in the visual storytelling of the movie.  Enter South African composer Philip Miller, a former lawyer who switched to a career in film scoring.  His film scoring resume includes quite a few collaborations in theater, film and video, but solo scoring efforts include compositions for Catch a Fire, Forgiveness and Max and Mona.

            I had never had the opportunity to listen to a Philip Miller score before White Lion, but I must say that I am incredibly impressed.  I hadnít seen the film and yet I could tell exactly what was going on in the film through listening to Millerís musical score for the movie.  Playful orchestral sound accompany the lighthearted moments in the film - moments when Letsatsi was a young and playful cub.  Tracks like Playing Cubs, Chicken Hok and the Porcupine and Friends brought an instant smile to my face as I tried to imagine the adorable antics of a young lion cub. 

            Tracks designed to go along with the more dangerous aspects of Letsatsiís world were more dark and ominous.  In Hyena Attacks, the music performed by the string and horn sections actually caused the hair on my arms to rise - yes, my danger sense was tingling.  Most interesting to me are the ways in which Philip Miller was able to calls visual images to my mind while listening to the music.  I loved the little things that Miller added to tracks like these to heighten the danger awareness of the listener, like the small bits of percussion that were reminiscent of the snapping jaws of an animal or the crash of percussion that indicates a gunshot in The Shooting.  This experienced reached its peak during Fire.  The horns instantly announced that something was amiss.  The rapid string performance offered the visual of fleeing animals.  The crashing of cymbals gave off the impression of flaming flare-ups.  The percussions gave the impressions of crackling flames.

            The White Lion Soundtrack is more than just a well-put together musical score for a film - itís an experience.  When one can actually picture in their mindís eye everything that is going on in a film based solely on its musical score, the composer has accomplished everything he set out to achieve through his creation.  The soundtrack is so incredibly moving, that I canít imagine the movie to be anything less than amazing.  The soundtrack created by Philip Miller has inspired me to seek out this film and that says a lot.  Philip Miller is definitely a composer to keep an eye on.  He truly understood exactly the kind of music this film needed and created the perfect musical score.  The White Lion Soundtrack will always be a stand out piece of musical composition for me and will have a treasured place in my soundtrack collection.


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