Holiday cheer is now abounding at Intrada Records with the recent releases of Alan Silvestri’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL and Bruce Broughton’s THE THANKSGIVING PROMISE. But perhaps their most unexpected early present to arrive is Maurice Jarre’s score for 1989s PRANCER. While this tale of a reindeer that may or may not be Santa’s favorite beast of burden might not have the cult cache of “A Christmas Story,” “Prancer” is certainly a chestnut for the cable generation. The star at the top of its feel-good Xmas tree is a truly beautiful score by Maurice Jarre. Then at the height of his “electronic” period after such scores as WITNESS and THE MOSQUITO COAST, Jarre had the ability to take a sound perhaps more suited for genre films and apply their ethereal quality on top of a true orchestra for such tender, dramatic pictures like DEAD POETS SOCIETY and GORILLAS IN THE MIST.
“Prancer” stirringly falls into the magical realm of Jarre’s GHOST and ALMOST AN ANGEL, where kind souls encounter the fantastical. Here it’s St. Nick on the hoof, and the magic of Christmas that he brings to a little girl. Jarre employs glistening bell percussion, electronic horns and voice-like synths with nostalgic melody, seamlessly exchanging their gifts with lush strings and piano, along with the darkness of the threat of those who see Prancer as reindeer steak. At its best, PRANCER‘s warmly drifting music brings to mind the bonding between astronaut and Drac in Jarre’s ENEMY MINE, except here the growing warmth is between girl and Santa’s helper. PRANCER glides on pure sentimental charm and carol-like rhythms as Jarre opens his heart and breaks out the sleigh bell chorus to the possibility of miracles, with a richness of gossamer sound both human, and enchanted – though how “Mysteries of Love” from TWIN PEAKS figures into this still remains a mystery to me.
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