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Return to Paradise (Soundtrack) by Mark Mancina

Mancina's Musical Paradise
Review by Christopher Coleman


Return to Paradise (Soundtrack) by Mark Mancina

Return to Paradise

Return to Paradise (Soundtrack) by Mark Mancina





Originality 8
Music Selection 8
Composition 9
CD Length 7
Track Order 7
Performance 8
Final Score 8/10


Mark Mancina
Mark Mancina


Quick Quotes

"I get great satisfaction from seeing Mark Mancina finally emerge from the musical rut he seemed to be in, and blossom into a mature and confident composer. If Return to Paradise is a taste of things to come, I have a feeling that he will become one of the major players in Hollywood composing circles very shortly.

Jonathan Broxton - Movie Music UK Reviews Return to Paradise



Composed and Arranged by Mark Mancina
Produced by Mark Mancina
Executive Producer: Robert Townson
Orchestrated by David Metzger and Mark Mancina
Performed by: Ron Applegate (French Horn), Jon Clarke (Oboe, English Horn),
Fred Selden (Flute, Alto Flute, Bass Flute, Clarinet, Bonsuri, Suling, Tarka, Duduk, 
By-Chee, Bass Pan Pipes)
Released by Varese Saranbande Records August 11, 1998

Over the years, one of Media Ventures less celebrated composers has been Mark Mancina.  Making his biggest splash with his fast-paced scores for Bad Boys, Twister and Speed, Mancina's subtler works such as Moll Flanders have gotten lost in the shuffle.  Despite contracting more action/adventure films than anything else, Mark Mancina has the talent to compose effectively for a variety of film genres.  For the 1998 release of Return to Paradise, Mark Mancina was given the opportunity to bring his talents for romantic and exotic music to the forefront.

Return to Paradise features the acting talents of Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix and revolves around a life-and-death-ethical dilemma three friends face.  To free the one from a death-sentence in Malaysia, the other two will all have to serve time In Malaysian custody themselves.  If the two refuse to return to Malaysia, the third will be put to death.  

Mark Mancina's score naturally reflects the Malaysian context of the film and is constructed with ethnic percussions and a plethora of colorful, woodwind instruments.   The combination of these elements with electric guitar accents, synthesizers and slow-tempo drum loops makes for an extraordinary and mysterious music experience.  

The most notable item in the score to Return to Paradise is its grand title theme from which the score takes its heart and focus.  This main theme opens the Varese Saranbande CD in mesmerizing fashion, Looking at You (1).  Although no other single track quite matches the beauty of the first, one can't help be hooked into listening to the rest of the soundtrack.  Track 2, Return to Paradise, is worth mentioning as it does come close to the quality of track 1.  Starting with a simple statement of the theme by strings, then by oboe, the track is given a bit more energy and tempo as the ethnic drums are layered in.   The track then moves into various woodwinds trading off statements of the simple motif.  While, Looking at You (1) is more personal, track 2 is larger, more expansive and captures a greater portion of the film's overall feel.  Several other tracks make use of the main theme such as track 10, Desperate Lovers, or I'll Miss You (14), where the piano takes the lead with the theme.

The remaining tracks reflect either the suspense of the film or help to communicate its setting.  The Hanging (17) and Second Call (18) are perhaps the darkest most suspenseful of all the tracks.  Arrival in Malaysia (8) are two tracks making the strongest demonstration of an expansive Far Eastern feel - bordering on Hans Zimmer's work for Beyond Rangoon.

According to Mancina he was actually influenced by Eliot Goldenthal (of all people!) when composing Return to Paradise.  Whatever his influences were, Mark Mancina delivers one of his best scores to date - certainly one of the most memorable themes of 1998.  In recent years, Mancina has made a name for himself with energy-filled action scores, but with efforts like Return to Paradise, hopefully, he will see a broadening range of projects being offered to him.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track Title Time



Looking At You



The Prison



Return to Paradise


4 Bike Ride 0:47  ***

6 Years in Prison



Crack Pipe



...just a few days more


8 Arriving in Malaysia



The Appeal



Desperate Lovers



Safe Travels

0:44  ****

Higher Appeal


13 God's Bathtub 1:32  ****

I'll Miss You

2:17  ***
15 Flesh and Blood 2:00  ***
16 Godless Place 2:56  ***
17 The Hanging 2:13  ***
18 Second Call 1:11  ***
19 Hope 0:47  ***
20 Epilogue 7:43  ****

Total Running Time


Referenced Reviews
Beyond Rangoon




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