Andrey Dergatchev – The Return (2006)

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by Mark Saleski

There have been pieces of music in my past that have stirred such emotional resonance that I wondered if maybe the music was written for me.

Thomas Newman’s score for the film “American Beauty”: I had to restart the DVD after 15 or 20 minutes because I just couldn’t drag my attention away from that percussive stew. Gavin Bryars’ elegiac “The Sinking Of The Titanic” — beautiful and spooky. I don’t know a word of Polish (OK, I’m a Saleski … I can count to 10) but the emotion bursting from Dawn Upshaw on Gorecki’s “Symphony No. 3” is almost too much too bear.

Andrey Dergatchev’s soundtrack to Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film “The Return” cast that same spell over me. Film music is of course written primarily to enhance the imagery but, every so often, the score is strong enough to stand on its own: Dergatchev’s use of atmospheric elements: muted voices, dogs barking in the distance, machinery, rainfall, cars, Russian folk music, thunder, dissonance — all serve to create a foggy sense of foreboding. I love every texture-wrapped second of it.

Even if I wasn’t aware (via the promotional material) of the plot outline, I would have known that some sort of trip had come to pass as the mood darkened considerably at the midpoint, culminating in the oddly modern “Final Titles.”

A neat trick, this. Usually I see a film and am overtaken by its music. This time around, the music of The Return had me hungering for the images — not that the ones in my head weren’t interesting.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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