Hong Kong 2006
Isabella - OST
Review: "Isabella" is a magical drama with a great atmosphere. Critics didn't just leave cinemas deeply impressed
by the film itself, but were also blown away by a fantastic soundtrack, which eventually won the movie a "Silver Bear"
Award for the best film score at the Berlin Filmfestspiele. Actually, there is nothing more to add to this fact except
maybe that the music from Peter Kam would have deserved an Academy Award, too.
Granted, if you listen to this soundtrack too often you might find yourself quite depressed and deeply saddened, but
that's something you won't be able to avoid, as it's very unlikely that you don't listen to these magnificent
compositions over and over again in a row, especially since the music unfolds an irresistible magical charm.
The different titles are all very characteristic on their own and the many acoustic guitar pieces brilliantly convey
the Macau- and Portugal feeling. The songs are all very dreamy and simply wonderful, so that Peter Kam, who already
delivered great work with his OST to "Perhaps Love", created his greatest masterpiece to date with "Isabella". On
my personal list of my absolute favorite composers he easily reserved himself a spot at a top position.
The CD offers a great number of tracks and many of them are rather short. However, that's not a problem at all, as
the different tracks make for an excellent whole and give the soundtrack the feel of being all of a piece. Its true
charm the "Isabella" OST unfolds with its warm and sad guitar pieces, like "Echoes", "Isabella I, "Road" or
"To the Heavens". These songs will wrap around you with a cozy sound layer, and the expertise of the guitar play, which
also gets supported by some mourningful violine sounds, will absolutely take your breath away.
"Isabella I" depicts the main motif, of course, which as already said is played by a guitar and evokes strong feelings
of longing and loneliness in us. The concurrent violin play does its part to give this very gloomy song a fitting
wall of sound. In "Isabella III" the motif is taken on again, this time experiencing some small changes, for example
a piano that plays along towards the end.
In "Isabella II" the main motif is only recognizable later on, as the song is introduced to us with some mysterious
sounding glockenspiel, which bestows something fairy-tale-like upon this track.
Many of the tracks also can enchant you without great guitar work, and instead will win you over with some beautiful
piano compositions. One of these titles is "Voice of the Past", which for sure is one of the CD's highlights. The
bright piano, which plays a very lonely melody is eventually accompanied by a violine, which gives the song an even
more melancholic character. "Corpse" is a piece in which a piano and a guitar play a nice duet, that shifts from
its more depressive tunes to a more playful and rhythmic melody, that still comes along with a somewhat dark
motif, yet. In "Ritual I" and "Ritual II" a guitar, piano and strings work out a heart-wrenchingly beautiful and sad tune.
"She Stalks", "Exploration" and "Sleeping Beauty" play the same theme, which with its plucked dull sounds of a cello
and the use of a piano, reminds us of Wong Kar-Wai's "In the Mood for Love", also creating the same feeling of
solitariness and feelings of being lost, within the listener.
There are also some dialogue tracks to be found on the CD, which build a nice bridge to the film, and thus don't feel
futile at all. Moreover, composer Peter Kam also works some nice beats into his songs, which stand in nice contrast to
the rest of the tracks, as they are imbued with a more playful rhythm. "Ripples", for example, focuses on some very
portuguese-like guitar play. "Memories" on the other hand reminds us a bit of circus music, because of its bright
accordion sounds, but without making this song standing too much in contrast to the rest of the CD, as it finds its way back
to its melancholic roots again. The same goes for "A Story in Macau", even though the more lively rhythm remains
apparent until the very end, giving this song a more hopeful character.
Furthermore, there is the very piano-centered piece "Road to Freedom" or "Decision", which build on melancholic
violin and piano sounds. All these tracks have something in common, namely that they can really move you, and that they
are so sad at times, that your heart will become heavy.
"New Beginnings" is also very interesting, as there is some very nice Flamenco-like guitar play towards the end, which
underlines the portuguese background of the film/soundtrack, once again. After all the portuguese cultur did have
a strong influence on Macau, as everyone knows, and therefore on the film, too.
"Search" also deserves to be mentioned, as it is one of the very rare titles, in which there is some singing involved,
even though the female voice doesn't actually sing any real words.
I have to admit that I didn't know what to make of "O Gente Da Minha Terra" by fado-singer Mariza at first. But with
time the song plays itself right into your heart and eventually becomes one of the soundtrack's true highlights.
The lamenting singing and the great melancholic guitar play just fit perfectly into the score. It's almost as if
Peter Kam used this song as a guide when composing the OST to "Isabella". A song that can give you goose-bumps.
Sad, dreamy and simply wonderful!
At the end of the CD there is a 80's song of Anita Mui, which was also used in the movie. Well, I surely don't want
to say a bad word about the now immortal Anita Mui, but the song still isn't my cup of tea, even the more as it
doesn't fit into the rest of the OST, when it comes to the mood. In fact, this is the only real flaw to be found
on the CD, but as this is just a bonus track, it won't have any negative impact on the overall rating.
There is nothing more to say. Peter Kam created a wonderfully melancholic OST for "Isabella", which captures the
portuguese coloration of the film very well with many acoustic guitar pieces. A masterpiece among movie
Copyright © 2007 AsianMovieWeb
03. She Stalks
04. Dialogue I
05. Voice of the Past
08. Dialogue II
09. Isabella I
13. Dialogue III
15. Ritual I
16. Ritual II
18. Isabella II
20. Sleepinq Beauty
21. Dialogue IV
23. I'll Go With You
24. Isabella III
25. Dialogue V
27. New Beginnings
28. To The Heavens
29. Dialogue VI
32. Road to Freedom
33. O Gente Da Minha
Terra (Performed by
34. A Story in Macau
35. Bonus track:
Running Time = 52:06
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