Film / Soundtrack Review: O'Apostolo

Philip Glass

From Moscow to Melbourne, O'Apostolo has numerous fans — everyone who sees it remarks how memorable it is. Richly detailed and exhaustively executed, O'Apostolo  was short-listed for an Oscar for best animation.

A gothic, stop-motion adult fable set in the Camino de Santiago or Way of Saint James,  O'Apostolo follows Ramon, an escaped convict who takes off to a remote village to recover an old loot that was hidden years earlier. He creeps out once the sun goes down to find the loot and discovers the dark secret of the village, a supernatural conspiracy with its roots in the black plague with sinister old people, odd disappearances, spirits, and strange parish priest all meet in this fantastic tale.
 What is really stand out is the music. The choral music score partially composed by  Philip Glass, Xavier Font and Arturo Vaquero is a real treat, especially during a highly- stylized musical interlude that tells the history of the cursed village. Philip Glass has been nominated for numerous awards, including 3 Oscars for the soundtracks of: “Kundunk" (1997), “The Hours" (2002) and “Notes On A Scandal" (2006). Also the excellent performances by the Spanish language voice talents, including Geraldine Chaplin and the late Spanish horror film star Paul Naschy as a corpulent, blustery archbishop provides some much needed comic relief.

The village is menacingly beautiful, surrounded by writhing, leafless trees and brambles, and the character work is painstakingly intricate. Each is modeled on the actor playing him or her, and the emotional range of the character animation is really quite astounding; it's rare that we get stop-motion characters whose performances include the subtlety and nuance on display here.

The stop motion really is a marvel (at 3-5 seconds of filming per day!) and the production is outstanding. From Compton to China, producers Solomon J. LeFlore and Susan Gee put the independent in independent motion picture production. LeFlore was hired by music mogul Dr. Dre (aka Andre Young) to write a feature script inspired by Young’s life story. “O’Apostolo," the Spanish-American production is but their latest offering.

LeFlore and Gee have a number of tantalizing international projects in development (with their co-production partner Tim Coddington (Marco Polo; Cyber; Narnia series; etc.) including psychological thriller “Transference" (which LeFlore will direct); an, epic action adventure “The Conquest" (UK and U.S. co-production) based on the William the Conqueror story; a buddy action comedy “The Artist," plus three more animations “Young Santa" (U.S. China co-production), “Spirit Bear" (U.S. and Canada co- production), and “Tailchaser's Somg" (U.S. and Japan co-production with Animetropolis and Japan’s IDA).

Music is central to LeFlore and Gee’s productions. The producers look forward to continuing their successful and satisfying collaboration with composers as diverse as Philip Glass and Dr. Dre on their upcoming projects, one of them, “Transference" may be filmed in New Orleans where many consider the birthplace of Jazz.

And, LeFlore knows and loves music; he graduated from the same south Los Angeles high school (Alain Leroy Locke) home of perennial jazz inspired marching band that produced jazz great Leon “Ndugu" Chancler (Shreveport, Louisiana) and composer Patrice Rushen; and, where jazz greats like Herbie Hancock were regular visitors.

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