"Into The West (2005)"
TV Soundtrack Review
Music By Geoff Zanelli
La-La Land Records LLLCD1258
Disc 1: 24 Tracks/Disc Time: 48:02
Disc 2: 27 Tracks/Disc Time: 59:28
Total Set Time: 107:30
Grade: A (BEST OF 2013)
Almost ten years ago during the Summer of 1995, TNT aired a rather passionate and visually engaging mini-series produced by Oscar Winner Steven Spielberg. "Into The West" told the epic tale of two figures during the American colonization of the West: one white and the other Native American. Jacob Wheeler leaves his dull life behind to strike out west, while Loved By the Buffalo faces his destiny to try to fight a prophecy that his people will be wiped out by the settlers. Jacob marries Loved By the Buffalo's sister Thunder Heart Woman, uniting the two families while around them relations between the two races crumble. The mini-series was a major hit scoring high ratings and excellent reviews all around that featured an great ensemble of actors, directors and writers to bring this story to life. Actors that include Irene Bedard (DIsney's "Pocahantas"), Josh Brolin ("The Goonies"), Keri Russell ("Felicity"), Gary Busey ("The Buddy Holly Story"), Tom Berenger ("Platoon"), Rachel Leigh Cook ("She's All That"), Sean Astin ("The Lord Of The Rings"), Lance Henriksen ("Aliens"), Graham Greene ("Die Hard With A Vengeance"), Judge Reinhold ("Beverly Hills Cop"), Craig Sheffer ("Some Kind Of Wonderful"), Wes Studi ("The Last Of The Mohicans"), and Skeet Ulrich ("Scream") that made up a big portion of the underlying stories of the mini-series and their historical events.
With each episode of the mini-series featuring a different director that included Michael Watkins, Simon Wincer, Robert Dornheim, Timothy Van Patten, Sergio Mimica-Gezzan and Jeremy Podeswa, a composer was needed that would help musically glue the essence of each storyline in each individual section that these accomplished directors were helming. The producers of the mini-series went directly to the best in the business in Oscar winner Hans Zimmer in hopes that he could recommend a composer for this massive project. Sure enough he recommended (rather highly) the fresh musical voice of the up and coming Geoff Zanelli, who was coming off a highly successful rescoring of David Koepp's "Secret Window" starring Johnny Depp and providing additional music to "Pirates Of The Caribbean" and "Pearl Harbor". Zanelli's talents are truly on display with this terrific score that showcases a grand operatic style and solid themes throughout that it's one of the reasons why the is score has been in demand by soundtrack collectors as well as fans of the mini-series since it was released.
From the opening moments of the score "Into The West", Zanelli's powerful theme with a wordless Native American vocalise that delicately establishes the delicate balance of the plight of the Native Americans and the American sides of the story and this massive score. Early on, Zanelli's main focus is that of the Native Americans and develops his strongest material that really does play out quite beautifully later on as the two worlds and cultures clash. Highlighted by the tracks "Buffalo Run", "Growling Bear's Vision", "Growling Bear Appears", "Sundance", "The Lakota, A Peaceful Nation", "Running Fox Returns To Dogstar, "Gathering Of Nations", "Spirit", "Preserving Lakota History", "In The Wake Of Sitting Bull's Death", "After Wounded Knee" and "The Tribe Moves On", which are really powerful, dramatic and really feature some excellent orchestrations and haunting melodies and themes that do capture the essence of the Native Americans and give them a rather distinctive voice as compared to the American settlers.
The other half of the score which is the score's equal balance of the American settlers that are exploring not only the will of themselves, the Native Americans and the unexplored land that is America. Zanelli's music is simply gorgeous and is pure Americana at its' best. Highlighted by the tracks "Wheelerton", "The Beauty Of The American Frontier", "Meteor Shower", "Photography", "The Wheel And The Sunset", "Crossing The River", "Gold Fever", "The Transcontinental Railroad", "Merry Christmas", "Seeing The Buffalo" and "Wheeler Reunion 1880". There's also dramatic depths that apart of the storyline in which Zanelli perfectly nails to add a touch of romance, and humanity that include "Much To Learn From Each Other", "An Uncertain Future", "Jacob Jr's Letter Home", "Jacob And Tender Heart Woman", Margaret Light Shines With Children" and "Dreams And Schemes". While the darkest and harshest part of this history in the tracks "The Sand Creek Massacre", "Aftermath At Sand Creek", "Caring For The Wounded" and "After Wounded Knee", which are powerful, dramatic compositions that make this score very memorable without question.
La-La Land's release of this score is pretty comprehensive and engaging listen at 108 minutes and is pretty much everything Zanelli had written for the series. You have to hand it to La-LaLand for it's terrific packaging and everything because this one is really well produced and it shows that this score is really special in the way it was presented. There is no doubt that this is definitely Geoff Zanelli's best score and a grand opus in his still growing career for which he will no doubt flourish with the best projects and get the rightful attention he deserves. Thumbs way way up!