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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
by Elliot Goldenthal

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (Soundtrack) by Elliot Goldenthal

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Composed by Elliot Goldenthal
Sony BMG Records (2001)

Rating: 10/10

Buy Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within:  Prince Caspian (soundtrack) by Elliot Goldenthal from


Soundclips below provided by AmazonMP3


“Blending his aggressive style performed by a massive orchestra and choir, with an equally powerful but contrasting love theme, Goldenthal churns out an absolutely golden score. ”

Elliot's Gold Enthralls!
Review by Christopher Coleman

In recent years two intriguing phenomena have appeared. First, video game scores have come right along side feature film scores as far as orchestral depth and complexity. Second, feature films began being spawned by video game premises. The Summer of 2001 features two sure-blockbuster films which are based upon the premises of two immensely popular video games. First, Lara Croft's Tomb Raider, and now Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

The video game series, FINAL FANTASY, has become one of, if not, the most popular video game series to date. Not only have the nine games released made millions and garnered a massive worldwide following, but the music from the games scored by Nobuo Uematsu has a huge following as well. With its detailed storyline, the Final Fantasy games provide a broad palette of opportunity for its music to be powerful and engaging. Uematsu's music for the series has become some of the most recognizable game music around.

The expectations and hopes regarding FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN have been much loftier than those for TOMB RAIDER. Early trailers had fans of the game as well as sci-fi fans salivating for months. Under the direction of the game-series creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, the ambitious project breaks new ground in the use computer generated characters for features films. Besides the expectations of film music fans, game and anime music fans were hopeful, if not expectant, that the original game score composer, Uematsu, would get the call. Surprisingly, in a fairly bold move, director Hironobu Sakaguchi opted for acclaimed film music composer Elliot Goldenthal instead. The announcement of Elliot Goldenthal was met with the expected mixed reaction. Goldenthal's mainstay, dissonant, post-modern style has neatly divided those that have listened to his music into two camps: love it or leave it. For many fans of the game series, Goldenthal's name and work is probably a complete mystery.

With synthesizers playing a greater and greater role in film music, it would be natural to anticipate a heavy synth-score or electronica/grunge-laden score for this completely CG film. With Goldenthal at the musical helm, this was just not going to be the case, further reason to consider his selection as composer a brave and bold move. Until now, most movie-goers and many film music fans, may not have found Goldenthal's music easily embraceable. With scores that have fallen into the collective pile of the forgotten or overlooked such as SPHERE, IN DREAMS or more recently, TITUS, Goldenthal seemed a curious, if not disappointing, choice for FINAL FANTASY.  Be that as it may, Elliot Goldenthal's score for FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN  has brought such uncertainty to a screeching halt.

Blending his aggressive style performed by a massive orchestra and choir, with an equally powerful but contrasting love theme, Goldenthal churns out an absolutely golden score. From the first mystical moments of Goldenthal's music, the listener is taken on a vigorous and breath-taking ride. Despite the clear differences in musical style, perhaps not since John Williams' score for the original Star Wars film has a sci/fi-fantasy-score come forth with such fortitude and character. Unfortunately, within the film, Goldenthal's score plays second fiddle to all the visual delights on screen. Compared with the effectiveness and force of the music on the soundtrack, it is downplayed within the film itself. While it is unlikely this score will leave a similar, indelible mark on film music or on audiences as Star Wars did, Goldenthal's score is still worthy of the highest accolades. 

FINAL FANTASY contains an all-too-rare-amount of ominous and wondrous music such as the opening track, The Spirit Within (1), Toccata and Dreamscapes (7) or Winged Serpent (13). The feel is expansive and majestic as Goldenthal infuses cavernous brass with haunting choruses and strings that range from alluring to terrifying. Also incorporated into some of the more intense sequences are strong percussions- sometimes in a very militaristic manner and at other times making a slight nod to Jerry Goldsmith. For Final Fantasy, Elliot Goldenthal's action music is never stale, seldom becomes forgettable, background music, and is a potent force in and of itself.

To Balance all of this high-intensity-music, Goldenthal crafts, among other elements, a simple and elegant love theme. The theme is introduced in The Kiss (4) played simply on piano and strings. Later, this theme receives a significantly more dramatic performance in Adagio and Transfiguration (16). The sparsely used love theme is finally transformed into a stylized, pop vocal performed by Lara Fabian.
Singer/songwriter and international sensation, Lara Fabian reprises her role as soundtrack-ambassador to the radio, with her performance of The Dream Within (17) which plays at the very conclusion of the film and into the end credits.

Having made her first film-music waves as the vocalist for Esmerelda in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and more recently with her solo and duet performance of For Always on the A.I. Artificial Intelligence soundtrack, Lara Fabian may have become the most sought-after female vocalist in (or even outside) of Hollywood. For FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN , Fabian sings the haiku-like lyrics of Richard Rudolph set to Goldenthal's love-theme. Fabian's appropriately reserved performance helps to cement this theme into the hearts and minds of the audiences as they exit the theatre.

Asian sensation band, L'arc-en-Ciel, may not be such a recognized name in Western countries, but this band is a true phenom of the East. L'arc-en-Ciel performs the final track, Spirit Dreams Inside (18), in their noted, alternative/grunge fashion. L'arc-en-Ciel's edgy music is actually what many expected the soundtrack to FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN to be filled with. The film's target audience would certainly be familiar with, and likely buy up a soundtrack with, this sound. It is safe to say that the inhabitants of orchestral-film-music-fandom are pleased that the score is otherwise dominated.
Thankfully, the producers of the film have done a wise thing in bringing in Goldenthal to provide the vast majority of the musical texture. This move alone will help keep FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN  from becoming a thin-layered, juvenile-thrill, Summer-film. While the film isn't much deeper than the very impressive visuals, the score does help elevate the experience to a better-than-average-matinee experience. The combination of Lara Fabian and her Western super-celebrity status, L'arc-en-Ciel's Eastern notoriety, and a Elliot Goldenthal's landmark score, will equal mega-worldwide-sales. For those who have been a part of the "leave it" camp regarding Goldenthal's previous film scores, Final Fantasy is definitely a score that will lure one into the "love it" camp.


Rating: 10/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 The Spirit Within 2:05  *****
2 Race to Old New York 1:20  *****
3 The Phantom Plains 1:42  *****
4 Code Red 2:05  ****
5 The Kiss 4:14  *****
6 Entrada 0:54  ****
7 Toccata and Dreamscapes 8:29  *****
8 Music for Dialogues 2:18  ****
9 Winged Serpent 1:35  ****
10 Zeus Cannon 3:24  *****
11 Flight to the Wasteland 5:56  *****
12 A Child Recalled 2:26  ****
13 The Eighth Spirit 0:51  ****
14 Dead Rain 1:51  ****
15 Blue Light 3:29  *****
16 Adagio and Transfiguration 5:23  *****
17 The Dream Within by Lara Fabian 4:41  *****
18 Spirit Dreams Inside by L'Arc-en Ciel 3:42  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 56 minutes  





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