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Rams by Atli Örvarsson (Review)

posted Dec 10, 2015, 8:22 PM by Kaya Savas

The reason I love score is that it needs to work with every element of the film in order to function fully to its potential. And while the big bold orchestral stuff is simply stunning, it’s sometimes the more restrained musical stories that can truly take your breath away. This is the case with Atli Örvarsson’s beautiful score to Rams. The story of two brother sheep farmers in Iceland who haven’t spoken in 40 years. When a disease spreads to the livestock in their small isolated valley, their prized Ram species that has been bred for generations in their family is at stake. Especially when the government intervenes and intends to stop the spread by killing off the livestock. Örvarsson demonstrates a subtle hand and approach to score these characters and paint the lonely wintery landscape in which they live in.

While Örvarsson has demonstrated he can do the big budget action stuff with ease, especially working with Hans Zimmer over the years. It’s in this small personal score where his voice as a composer truly shines. Atli is a fantastic accordion player, and he puts the instrument to good use here to give the score that folk feel. Violins create a shimmering sound that accompanies the gorgeous cinematography of Iceland’s vast scenery. The score, while simple, is quite emotionally diverse. The score has a tragic and stark tone for most of the runtime, and it definitely ends on a somber note. A few Icelandic tunes are dispersed throughout, which add some variation to the soundscape. All in all it’s an absorbing score, very much so that it will stay with you for quite some time. The music truly creates a state of mind and opens a window into the life of these characters. The score is both haunting and beautiful at the same time. It feels like it's lived a long life, there feels like there is history behind the music. And the slow sustaining approach of the music suggests a sense of tiredness looking to come to a rest.

Rams is Atli Örvarsson pure and unfiltered. The score is tremendous in its effectiveness. The bleak and cold approach lightly mixed with tragedy towards the end will leave the score on your mind for some time after. Atli paints a story with the right instrumentation, and the slow yet simple melodic structure is able to hone in on the tone with precision. The score is haunting, beautiful and somber. Rams is some of Atli’s finest writing and the subtle approach makes it resonate so much more than it would have if he tried to do something more “expected”.