CLOCKWISE – Maciej Dobrowolski


Original Review by Alan Rogers (First uploaded at maintitles.net)

Apparently, Clockwise is the first feature shot and produced in Qatar. Based on a Gulf legend, the film centres on a Qatari watch seller who spends his time reminiscing about the past. Then, he was a much more important member of the community, being a practitioner of “Fjeri Art”, a collection of maritime songs supposedly taught by jinn (supernatural creatures of Arab folklore) to humans. Director Khalifa Almuraikhi discovered first-time Polish composer Maciej Dobrowolski after hearing samples from the composer’s website and subsequent demo reels and offered him the chance to compose a score for the film.

Watch seller Saad’s yearning to recapture the past together with one timepiece’s ability to transport proceedings back to the 1920s/30s calls upon Dobrowolski to give a sense musically of the shift in time as well as come up with the necessary thematic material for the film. Scored mainly for string orchestra, the score begins strongly with “Clockwise”, which contains a lovely theme played on solo violin that sets the tone for the rest of the score: this is a score that’s restrained, beautifully orchestrated with the limited palette of instruments available and featuring several strong themes. By far the most memorable theme is the theme for Jeena, a jinn who plays an important role in Saad’s story. First heard in “Jeena Calls At Night” and hinted at with string ensemble before being plated as a solo, it’s delicate and a refreshing departure from the wealth of adrenaline-fuelled material that’s in film scoring at the moment. It appears later in the score in “Memories of Jeena” where a dialogue between solo violin and voice highlights both the theme as well as the vocal talents of Karolina Amirian. One of Dobrowolski’s talents with voice and orchestration is that at several points in the score he manages to meld the vocals with the instruments in such a way that it blurs the line between where the instruments end and the vocal begins. One such point in the “Main Titles”, where the theme is first heard being played by a flute, then voice highlights this very well. I had to go back and see where actually one ended and the other began. Blurring the boundary between the human voice and the orchestra somehow adds to the supernatural feel of the score.

The score is very much one of emotional strength rather than action but there are several aspects to the music that adds variety to the listening experience. Tracks such as “The Storm” and “Heading To Kharaba” have more up-tempo passages that use massed strings alongside ethnic-tinged percussion to instil a sense of urgency to the music. The ethnic drums and percussion used in cues such as these bed the score more strongly geographically than any other part of the music, but I did find one disorienting feature of the music in terms of geographic setting: some of the flute playing (for example in the latter half of “Main Titles”) has more of a Celtic feel than Arabian. Also – and highlighting the composer’s use of the orchestra – I have rarely heard such a good musical representation of rain as heard in the first thirty seconds of “Rain/Atique Dies”.

Clockwise is a beautifully realised score, filled with lovely themes and emotional underscore that highlights Dobrowolski as one of a group of up-and-coming composers who are learning their craft with limited resources but who are producing a finished product of great quality. It is astonishing to me that this score has not yet been picked up (at the time of writing of this review) by any record label, particularly when I see some of the material that is being composed for big films that is being released without any consideration as to whether it is actually listenable. Some of Dobrowolski’s cues from Clockwise can be heard at the composer’s website and I heartily recommend you listen to them. As it is very unlikely that many people will see Clockwise and experience how the music fits with the visuals, the music in some ways needs to be able stand up on its own away from the film more than most scores. There is no doubt that this score does that admirably and certainly deserves to be heard by a wider audience.

Rating: ****

  1. Clockwise (2.04)
  2. Main Titles (2:01)
  3. Counter-Clockwise (1:43)
  4. Atique’s Theme / Begotten By Sea (1:48)
  5. Jeena Calls At Night (1:36)
  6. The Storm (2:16)
  7. Kharaba (1:47)
  8. A Night In Wakra (2:17)
  9. Dancing Girl (1:48)
  10. Heart’s Desire (1:47)
  11. Into Her World (2:15)
  12. Broken Circles (3:27)
  13. Heading To Kharaba (1:22)
  14. The Flask (2:53)
  15. Rain / Atique Dies (2:49)
  16. I Am Always With You (2:08)
  17. Memories of Jeena (2:08)
  18. The Journey Ends (2:39)
  19. Fijiri Underscored (1:51)

Running Time: 40:46

Composer Promotional Copy (2011)

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