The Sheltering Sky (Soundtrack): Tipstor® Pick
Summary: The Sheltering Sky is the original soundtrack to the 1990 film The Sheltering Sky starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich. The original score was composed primarily by Ryuichi Sakamoto. The album won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and the LAFCA Award for Best Music.
Album: The Sheltering Sky
Artists: Various Artists
Label: Virgin Catalogue
The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles’ 1949 novel, offers a sweeping metaphor for the human condition, pinning its protagonists against the vastness of the Sahara Desert and beneath the unforgiving, all-seeing heavens: together yet hopelessly alone, unreachable by others and unknowable even to themselves. Whatever the failures in Bernardo Bertolucci’s accompanying film—its exoticism, its melodrama—it’s beautiful to look at, and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s score fits it perfectly. The wistful main theme, perpetually twisting and rising like a dust devil, is appropriately tragic, even a little indulgent, though other passages can be atonal, jarring, and as prickly as its characters (especially John Malkovich’s Port). The rest of the soundtrack rounds out the film’s world with songs from the Algerian raï singer Chaba Zahouania, traditional music from Tunisia and Burundi, and jazz period pieces from American vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and French singer Charles Trenet. The latter’s contribution, “Je Chante,” is a jaunty 1955 romp with a perennial cheer that stands starkly at odds with the bleakness of the film, and it’s precisely that incongruity that makes the soundtrack so engaging.