When given the opportunity to write non-comedic scores, Henry Mancini would run with the opportunity with some of his most beautiful and adventurous work, trekking from Italy to Russia in SUNFLOWER, venturing to outer space in LIFEFORCE or digging into the Irish-worked coalmines of THE MOLLY MAGUIRES. It’s that score’s spirit that has the most in common with one of the composer’s most haunting works as he treks across Alaska in 1974’s THE WHITE DAWN. With a rousing (though unused) orchestral theme promising high adventure, Mancini follows a trio of seriously misplaced whalers into the company of Eskimos. At first, a pennywhistle plays a lullaby-like theme, transposing the Irish feeling into the natives’ Asian origins. Mancini’s gorgeous, whisp-like melodies glow in this film’s supremely deceptive spirit of cross-cultural warmth, while native percussion and eerie wind like effects convey the foreboding atmosphere.
That can also be said of the horn-filled orchestra when it makes its presence known again with the whalers’ welcome that’s worn out, the heat of Mancini’s percussive danger rising to one of the most chilling shock climaxes in film history. As one of the composer’s least publically known, but most requested scores by fans, THE WHITE DAWN gets fine treatment by Intrada, right down to Lou Gossett’s haunting vocal accompaniment with the Eskimo singer Akshooyooliak that captures the simple beauty of this film, and score’s haunting power.