Rachel Portman

Hart's War [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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"Hart's War is not a war story," writes director Gregory Hoblit at the start of his liner notes to the film's soundtrack album, taking head-on the double takes most movie music fans are likely to do upon learning that the picture was scored by Rachel Portman. Portman, the Oscar-winning composer of Emma, also wrote music for Chocolat and The Cider House Rules, but she isn't the kind of writer one would think of immediately for a film starring Bruce Willis and set in a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp. But then, says, Hoblit, the picture "is not a World War II prisoner of war escape movie, either." What sort of movie is it? It's "fundamentally about captured American soldiers finding grace, dignity, and honor in the face of extremely difficult and deadly circumstances." Portman's score certainly responds to this interpretation. Its sweeping orchestral music sometimes conveys anxiety, such as in a cue called "Train Yard Strafing and Bombing," but never connotes a real sense of violence. It is lush, sad, and romantic, much more like Emma than it is like, say, Franz Waxman's score for Stalag 17 or Elmer Bernstein's for The Great Escape. It suggests that whatever viewers may expect based on the advertisements and trailers for the film, they are likely to find something else when they go to the theater.

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