The Ribbon – Soundtrack Review

Doing something a little different this week – introducing the world premiere review for Jonathan Galland’s wonder-filled score to animated short The Ribbon!

The Ribbon is an animated short film directed by Polla-Ilariya Kozino. It is a just under five minute long story about a young girl who (to quote the creators) “finds herself in a beautiful imaginary world”. As she explores this new land, she finds herself held back by a long red ribbon that continuously prevents her from going any further. As the story develops, it is revealed via some rather artful visual imagery that the ribbon represents her lifeline to real life (as sadly she is gravely ill). After a short while the ribbon then breaks, allowing the little girl to freely explore her enchanting new world forever. Visually the film is quite stunning, utilising bright colours and expertly-crafted shots to get the rather intriguing narrative across – a goal that is also contributed to considerably by Jonathan Galland’s heartfelt and quite wondrous orchestral score.

Like the film, Galland’s soundtrack comes in with a rather short runtime (just over five minutes) but the composer doesn’t let a second of that go to waste, showcasing several adventurous highs and emotional lows in his overall rather elegant musical setpiece. The score opens with some rather mysterious-sounding percussion instruments before sweeping strings then take the forefront, moving the music into more light-hearted and adventurous territory. The percussion then makes a return, this time sounding out the first few notes of the score’s main theme in conjunction with the now backing strings.  At about the one minute mark, the orchestra then begins to build, culminating in the dramatic introduction of brass to the score. The pace then starts to increase, pushing forward this musical idea of exploration and adventure before it then comes to a dramatic halt in a rather classical music-like manner.

The orchestra now vanishes, replaced by a singular piano that instantly changes the atmosphere of the score from upbeat and happy to solemn and heartbreaking, as it’s at this point in the film where we find out what the ribbon symbolizes. The composer describes this moment in the score as a “very powerful contrast with the big orchestration heard up to that point”, which he uses in order to “strike with the devastating reality of the girl’s last moments”, and it’s a statement that I would most certainly agree with. On an emotional level, this section of the score quite simply works incredibly well.

Upon the moment of the ribbon breaking, the score then bursts into orchestra once more, with the strings taking the forefront initially before percussion then arrives with a fantastic performance of the main theme, this time in upbeat and very adventurous form as the little girl runs off to explore before the end credits then roll. Towards the end of this thematic rendition, the music then slows right back down with a rather solemn piano finale to the main theme, stylistically calling back to the singular piano used earlier in order to remind us once again of the heartbreaking fate of the little girl.

To close out the score, the composer then fleshes out the main theme with a minute long strings-and-piano-based performance. It’s a highly enjoyable finish to Galland’s score, and one that allows us to really get to grips with the main theme before the music then draws to a close.

All-in, The Ribbon is a well composed and rather inspirational soundtrack thats strength lies in its emotions, with the composer dealing out orchestral adventure and piano-heavy heartbreak to great effect, and utilising a main theme that does a great job of tying all the emotional range of the score together to create a pretty fantastic-sounding symphonic setpiece overall. Much like the film itself, it’s rather beautiful.

 

Score: 8/10

For more information, please visit the film’s website here (theribbonfilm.com) and you can also find the composer’s site here (jonathan-galland.com). To listen to Jonathan Galland’s full score for The Ribbon, click below.

 

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