Nature Girl

Soundtrack for Jane Goodall Documentary
Composer: Philip Glass
Artists: (piano) Michael Riesman
Conductor: Miriam Nemcova
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
National Geographic Motion Picture Soundtrack
Sony Classics MOVATM174
AtTheMovies: Music On Vinyl LP
Running Length: 55 minutes

What a pleasure to receive two LP’s containing the soundtrack for “Jane,” the National Geographic documentary on Jane Goodall, who spent her life studying the chimpanzees of Gombe, Tanzania. Included in the soundtrack package are two LP’s, each one approximately 15 minutes in length and carrying 3-4 tracks, for a total from both sides of 55 minutes. The film, “Jane,” is starting to pick up awards for Best Documentary of the 2017.

“Jane,”  goes from Jane’s childhood (loved animals) to being selected by Dr. Louis  Leakey as an assistant and then becoming world famous herself. The film also shows us Jane’s mother, Margaret, who lived with her in Gombe, Tanzania, Jane’s husband, the famed photographer Baron Hugo Van Lawick, and their son, Grub. The study is about chimps, and their individual personalities are shown in detail.

Composer Philip Glass used the same idea as Michael Nyman in “The Piano” soundtrack of over twenty years ago. There is a piano, elegantly played here by Michael Riesman, sometimes solitary and sometimes riding atop other instruments such as horns or cello or violins. The piano is Jane, from the opening selection of Jane coming to Africa, and solo piano is used, to her gradually becoming adjusted to the area (subtle addition of more instruments.) Each event in her life there, from meeting photographer Hugo Van Lawick (later to become her husband), their happiness living in the wild, moving to the Serengeti  for a time and back to Gombe. “The Serengeti" s lush music, incorporating flute, piano and horns. Close your eyes  and listen, you know just what part of the world you are in. Then comes the birth of their son, Grub, with piano, flute and gentle, lullaby-rhythm.

The animals are represented, also, with music of happiness and sadness as death comes to some. From the solo piano instrument at the beginning to full orchestra at the end, the soundtrack is a progression of a life. Jane works with Dr. Leakey at the beginning as an assistant, but at the end, she heads the Jane Goodall Institute in Africa and travels around the world to help finance their work, with Grub to help. As the film ends---and the music for the soundtrack---Jane has had “A Perfect Life.”

Listening to this soundtrack is to hear a softer beginning when the piano is solo and at ease, but gradually, emotions come through---love, animal warfare---and the solo theme of life is there, but surrounded by chaos, at times, and indecision. Love is happy, carefree and childlike, while indecision is an elegy. Full orchestra at the end, gives us a complete life and even more to come. A unique way---for a unique life---to portray music on an LP in a modern age.

Copyright 2018 Marie Asner