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CD REVIEW: Rachel Portman - Hart's War (Soundtrack)
By Ben Ohmart - 02/16/2002 - 11:39 AM EST

Artist: Rachel Portman
Album: Hart's War (Soundtrack)
CD Review: Hart's War is the new Bruce Willis movie that takes place in a WWII POW camp with Willis as the highest-ranking officer whose personal mission is to escape and blow up the neighboring munitions plant. But this is not Hogan's Heroes. There is no laugh track set against heroism, honor and courage in the face of personal sacrifice for the good of all people, these days.

Famed composer Rachel Portman, who won her Oscar for Emma, and scored even bigger hits with Chocolat and The Cider House Rules, comes at us again with a full orchestral score that is quite impressive, subtle and lush with strings and solitary horn and generally more of a gentle feeling than kettle drum war movies will recall. The opening ĎFinal Saluteí sets that tone of the aforesaid honor and courage just fine.

But frankly, even halfway through the first listen, the soundtrack seems to be quite ordinary, in line with a lot of other Ďsalute & intrigueí type scenarios. No, not the Under Siege kind, which has a Copeland & James Horner bent. But the ever-popular John Barry ideal of less is more.

Thatís all well and good, and a great sound itself of course. But Iím tired of it. I want the Next sound to arrive Ė and soon. I want the í00 decade to find its own voice. If itís steeped in writing tuneful melodies rather than an underscored collection of whole notes, thatís fine with me. If it turns industrial or more like a rock opera from The Who, combining rock and strings, good. But as swell as Hartís War is, Iím ready for something different, even before I was a third of a way through this cd.

But! For those who are happy with the current state of movie music, and love the Ďwide open spacesí style of composition, and like hearing instrumental plotting going on, youíre going to love this one. Rachelís on the ball, and continues to prove herself as one of the finest composers around. Itís good to see the boys have some competition now in their all-male world.

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