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Original Title:
Janghwa, Hongryeon

South Korea 2003

Lee Byung-woo

A Tale of Two Sisters - OST

Review: The OST to "A Tale of Two Sisters" manages to achieve what only few succeed in. Memorable tunes are fused with distressing dark sounds. A musical atmosphere unfolds that conveys the movie's unnamed ghostlike-supernatural character as well as it does capture the drama aspect of the film. There isn't only your typical piano and strings sounds, but especially the quiet acoustic guitar play really adds to the at times surprisingly warm quality of sound. Nonetheless, even the more typical horror movie titles on the CD, which are mainly standing out with tension-building string sounds and their dissonant compositions, can be quite convincing in every aspect and moreover can also stick with you long after finishing listening to the CD.

The opening starts with a serene track, which with its strings and piano gives you a presentiment of what's to come and almost draws a clear picture of the rustic mansion that holds ready the terror that will lurk into your mind. The track arouses a somber feeling, even though the title itself is rather warm and melodic.
In "Cold Hands" you can still find the already introduced feeling of yearning and grief, yet conveyed by a guitar and a more playful rhythm this one makes you almost believe to listen to a joyful track, until at the end the song finds its way back to more depressing realms.

"Dark Corridor" is to be found in three different versions on the CD. Dark and quiet strings slowly build up a little bit of tension until it becomes a nerve-splitting play which high sounds of the instruments accompanied by short rustling noise manages to give you the creeps, eventually. The two other versions differ in the way that there is another repeating, almost monotonous frightening theme to be heard in the background, which slightly counteracts the familiar theme, but also enhances it. The string sounds become more and more quivery and insecure, which greatly depicts the audiences' nerves that are all on edge. Calm, but portentously "Dark Corridor Ver.3" fades out, just to attack us completely off-guard with "Wistful Memories", which steals our last remaining nerves, with its high strings sounds, that are every now and then interrupted by dissonant intermezzos, which give it almost duet-character. What's really outstanding is that, as it was the case in "Dark Corridor", there is still a recognizable motif to be found here.

In "Even near You" woodwinds play a solemn, dark melody in a waltz-like rhythm which is resumed in "Frozen in Time", even if it gets a small alternation here.
"Crying Moon", on the other hand, takes the waltz-main-motif from "Cold Hands" and plays it in different alternations in several versions, whereas "Crying Moon Ver.3" strongly reminds us of the motif that we already heard in "Prologue".
"Chaos" proves to be a horror track not worth mentioning. There are strings disorderly playing whatever they want, as it might seem, which just serves the purpose to build up some tension.
The last three titles are more waltz-accentuated and give a walkabout through the already introduced themes. This is all a bit repetive, but then again, this way the melodies can also stick with you easier.

The biggest flaw of the soundtrack is the short running time of merely 29 minutes. However, one at least tried to make up for it by additionaly putting the music to the short film "Memories" from the horror trilogy "Three" onto the CD. Nonetheless, some of the tracks are rather odd and can't really be recommended as music that you can hear in your free time. There is just the motif which is introduced in "Parched City" and that is further developed in "Tears" and "Shattered Memories" that has the potential to become something near to an earworm. Being played by a piano and accompanied by dark string sounds in the background, the theme can evoke a good mixture of feelings like despair, longing, fear and emptiness of mind.

At the bottom line there has to be pointed out that "A Tale of Two Sisters" is everything but your typical horror-genre soundtrack. Especially the fact that there are more warm tunes to be found than one would have expected, and because of the unusual waltz-like character, which however becomes really appealing, and last but not least because of the soon to become familiar melodies, this CD is a recommendable listening experience. It's just sad, that despite the effort to make up for it, the CD is still too short and some of the tracks get a bit repetitive with time.
A good soundtrack, which nonetheless gets some reduction in the overall rating, because of its short running time. It's nice to see a good will shown by adding the "Memories"-stuff, but the soundtrack still remains too short. Furthermore, it's the "A Tale of Two Sisters"-OST that you pay for and not something else. Still, if you can live with that, and you liked the music in the movie, anyway, then you should definitely buy this one.

Copyright 2007 AsianMovieWeb

Track listing

01. Prologue
02. Cold Hands
03. Dark Corridor Ver.1
04. Even Near You
05. Crying Moon Ver.1
06. Crying Moon Ver.2
07. Dark Corridor Ver.2
08. Crying Moon Ver.3
09. Chaos
10. Dark Corridor Ver.3
11. Wistful Memory
12. The Forest Knows
13. Frozen in Time
14. No Path Back
15. Epilogue
16. Lullaby

Music from "Memories"- segment of the movie "Three":

17. Drenched Midnight
18. Parched City
19. Untitled
20. No Way Out
21. Tears
22. I remember You
23. Shattered Memories

Running Time = 40:52

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