Ferngully: The Last Rainforest

Alan Silvestri

" Silvestri: the last synthesiser "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

Even though Alan Silvestri established himself as a composer of some magnitude in the 90's, something tells me he needed to adjust his intentions with Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. Because let me tell you this from the beginning, it is NOT what you think it will be. The film (which was popular enough to receive a direct to video sequel) featured a bunch of songs and a score by Alan Silvestri. Lovely to add is that the score of Silvestri received a separate release by MCA Records. Sadly to mention it, it's not worth a lot of your time. Because reading 'Original Score and Sounds of the Rainforest' on the front cover is actually telling you, better expect it or you'll be disappointed.

I see the point (somehow) of the use of falling rain, chirping birds, thunder or insanely loud falling debris throughout the score. It somehow makes the score a lot more mystical. But as a music lover I have to detest it, because they make the listen because of it a lot weirder too. Besides, you don't hear any of those SFX during the song release do ya? However in some way it's mildly appropriate, especially because it's opening and closing a pretty childish score that's above anything else, really cheap. Mostly because of the fact it's fully synthesized.

Yes, no grand orchestral score here. Even a smaller orchestral effort would have been keen in some way. Perhaps it was due to budgetary constraints, but the synthesized score actually makes it more childish than it might want it to be. The opening cue "Main Title" (with its soft Abyss like choir and Flight of the Navigator feeling) is actually pretty mysterious and enjoyable, but "Skylarking" is totally not enjoyable. Not because of the fact you're experiencing the sfx in begin and end of the cue, but because it has such a childish tune as returning theme to begin with. And don't get me wrong, but the orchestral performance of this cue surely must have sounded so much better on paper.

I'm not attacking the use of synthesized music here, but I'm asking myself if Silvestri was okay by this at all? Surely he must have been disappointed, knowing that a synthesized score such as Flight of the Navigator actually sounded even more mature and fitting five years ago. It helps with creating this mysterious fantastical environment ("Magi Lune's Cave"), but it totally fails if it tries to create this typical Silvestri environment (you'll spot the Silvestri moments for sure) through this childish tune and this cheap sound design ("Crysta's Journey").

Furthermore "Rainforest Suite" are actually sounds of the jungle (no score whatsoever), "Going to Ferngully" delivers besides a brief love moment a total waterfall of sfx at the end (a full minute long), "The Grotto Song" is low and behold the actual pop song without the actors singing it (making it totally ridiculous) and the epic grandeur of the mid heroic explosion totally fails in "The Battle for Old Highrise" because of that cheap sounding synthesizer. Luckily "I'm Back" holds some nice moments of score, the choral moment at the end of "Remember Everything" is 14 seconds of pure bliss and "Spirit of the Trees" would have been an absolute knockout, if it would have been performed by orchestra and choir.

In the end, there a kind of charm in the mystical elements that make the synthesizer probably the most suitable instrument for this kind of project. But to conjure up heroism (like in track 11) or even amazement (track 13), the synthesizer is not suitable at all. Because there's some stuff here that would have been brilliant, if it was performed by a real live orchestra (last 2 tracks anyone?) So Ferngully might be low budget material and the synthesizer may have been a tool to replace an orchestral score adequately, something tells me Silvestri didn't have this in mind. For the fans who believe synthesized Silvestri is better than no Silvestri at all.

Favorite Moment - Spirit of the Trees (1.12 - 2.07)
There's a magical element coming from the choir that's quite intoxicating

Track Listing

1. Main Title (2.27)
2. Skylarking (2.28)
3. Magi Lune's Cave (2.43)
4. Xanthoreas (1.27)
5. Crysta's Journey (3.00)
6. Rainforest Suite (1.13)
7. The Leveller (1.38)
8. Going to Ferngully (6.58)
9. The Grotto Song (4.56)
10. I'm Back (4.27)
11. The Battle for Old Highrise (3.29)
12. Remember Everything (3.02)
13. Spirit of the Trees (3.41)
14. Genesis (2.28)

Total Length: 43.57
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 15 votes - average 4.23/5)

Released by

MCA Records MCJD-10619 (regular release 1992)

Orchestrations by

William Ross