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Blu-ray Review

THE RUSSIA HOUSE

Film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, 1990
123 minutes

Special Features:
Isolated Score Track - Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Building The Russia House
Original Theatrical Trailer

Prepared for Blu-ray release by Brian Jamieson and Nick Redman
Project Coordinator: Mike Flanagan
Layout and Design: Louis Falzarano at Soda Design
Booklet Essay: Julie Kirgo
Isolated Score tracks Prepared by Mike Matessino

Limited Edition of 3,000 units.

TWILIGHT TIME Blu-ray - The Limited Edition Series

Rating: ****

When I first watched this film years ago, I was mesmerized by one key element: the superb music score. It quickly became one of my favorite Jerry Goldsmith film scores and it remains so today.

For those who can't find the original soundtrack album (reviewed below), the Goldsmith score is included on this Blu-ray as an isolated track and you can witness how sparingly the music is used throughout the film. You can hear the introductions for the cues on the Isolated Score Track. The solo instruments featured prominently in this film score are the soprano sax cues played by Branford Marsalis and the piano playing of Michael Lang. Both are top studio musicians. As Julie Kirgo mentions in her excellent notes, the instruments featured in this score are both jazz and Slavic instruments --the balalaika and duduk.

The film stars the bearded Sean Connery as Batholomew ("Barly") Scott-Blair and the beautiful Michele Pfeiffer (Katya Orlova), who speaks with a very believable Russian accent. Both give outstanding performances. The film was skillfully directed by Fred Schepisi. But the script by Tom Stoppard, based on a best-selling John Le Carre spy novel, is somewhat confusing and overly complicated. Yet it does have some humorous lines and tender love scenes.

This film especially appealed to me because I had been in Russia in 1988 and visited in Moscow and Leningrad with a singing group known as Sharing A New Song. For this chorus, I had composed a song of greeting in Russian, the English title is: "We are giving you a gift of our songs" (to read more about this song -- click here).

After watching this Blu-ray, I was reminded again of the dark and dreariness of the Russian cities and how the people had to wait in line just to buy something as simple as a pair of shoes, which I witnessed when in Russia. This Blu-ray has great color which highlights the grayness and also contrasts it with sunny Lisbon, Portugal where "Barly" had his flat. Sean Connery gives one of his best film performances as a boozing book publisher and jazz musician (the music played by Branford Marsalis).

If you wish to follow the dialogue with the score track just click on the "Subtitle" button on your remote.

Other than the isolated score track, the other Special Features are not that interesting. The "Building the Russia House" feature is rather short and mostly a promotional film with the two main characters and the director
helping to sell the film's locations -- it was only the second American film filmed in the then Soviet Union.

I highly recommend this Twilight Time Blu-ray and make sure to read the helpful and well written notes by Julie Kirgo.

It is wonderful to have Jerry Goldsmith's film score, which he considered his favorite at that time, available on an isolated score track on this excellent Blu-ray title from Twilight Time.

And now for the...

 

 

CD Review

Soundtrack CD: THE RUSSIA HOUSE (MCA Records, 1990)

Music Composed and Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
Orchestrator: Arthur Morton
Branford Marsalis, Saxophone
Michael Lang, Piano
John Patitucci, Bass

Recorded and mixed by Bruce Botnick at Columbia Studios
and Ocean Way Recording, Los Angeles, California

"Along in the World" - music by Jerry Goldsmith/
lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman
Produced by Jeremy Lubbock and Alan and Marilyn Bergman

MCD 10136

Rating: ****

Playing Time: 61:33

1. KATYA (3:57)
2. INTRODUCTIONS (3:12)
3. THE CONVERSATION (3:13)
4. TRAINING (2:01)
5. KATYA AND BARLEY (2:32)
6. FIRST NAME, YAKOV (2:53)
7. BON VOYAGE (2:11)
8. THE MEETING (3:59)
9. I'M WITH YOU/ WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE (2:39)
10. ALONE IN THE WORLD (sung by Patti Austin, 4:09)
11. THE GIFT (2:34)
12. FULL MARKS (2:27)
13. BARLEY'S LOVE (2:34)
14. MY ONLY COUNTRY (4:34)
15. CROSSING OVER (4:13)
16. THE DEAL (4:09)
17. THE FAMILY ARRIVES (7:38)

 

Jerry Goldsmith was one of what I call the "Golden Triad" (the other two being Elmer Bernstein and John Williams). In my opinion, all three were the best film composers from the 1960s to 1990s. And this soundtrack from THE RUSSIA HOUSE is a prime example of Goldsmith's gift of finding the right mood (or hook) to make his film scores so memorable.

Goldsmith's hook in this score is heard on the first track for "Katya." It is a gorgeous theme and Goldsmith uses it throughout the score. There is also an instrumental version of an old pop song, "What Is This Thing Called Love?" Only a portion of that song is heard in the film.

For me the highlight of this CD is the final track, "The Family Arrives," which is also the longest and most glorious cue of them all. This is a terrific summary on the entire film score and brilliantly played by Branford Marsalis on soprano sax as well by the other jazz musicians and the unnamed orchestra musicians. That one track is worth the price of the whole CD.

Both the CD and Blu-ray are highly recommended of one of Jerry Goldsmith's greatest film scores and well worth adding to your collection.

-- Roger Hall, Film Music Review

 

Also recommended from Twilight Time with a great Jerry Goldsmith score...

 

UNDER FIRE (1983)

 

 

Jerry Goldsmith film music is also available on this DVD...

 

Music Masters: Fifteen Film Composers

 

 

 

 

 


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