Soundtracks are Underrated – Volume 6 – Argo

Ladies and gentleman! Boys and girls! Welcome to Soundtracks are Underrated, a column where this blogger of yours reiterates his love of soundtracks and writes about the many things that make them elevate a movie. This week I travel to Iran – without ever leaving my desk -to review no other than Argo.

Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in Argo
There are some nerve-wrecking airport scenes in this movie!

Argo is such an unbelievably bizarre story that, if it hadn’t actually happened, someone would’ve probably come up with it. Put quite simply, it is one of those occasions when reality is stranger than fiction. That always makes for good movie material.

It won the Oscar for best picture in 2012; the soundtrack that we here review was nominated in its respective category but lost to Life of Pi. A movie with this kind of pedigree demanded a top notch soundtrack. Who better to deliver it than eight time academy nominated Alexandre Desplat?

The French film composer really delivered a doozy on this one (in my opinion). Argo’s soundtrack produces the kind of atmospheric vibes that just take you to a different place; the choice of instruments, voices, sounds feels completely in tune with the mysterious veil surrounding the nation of Iran. This movie is set in the late ’70s but still, up to today, Iran continues to be a place that not many people can boost knowing much about, which just adds to the mystery. I think it was important that the soundtrack acknowledged this form of identity for it to feel in tune with the story.

You need to look no further than the very first track to experience exactly that. Named after the movie title, “Argo” is the kind of song that depicts a bazaar, a sunrise in the Middle-East and the vast, great, legacy of the Persian people all in one place. It sets the stage for “A Spy in Tehran“, a fast, vibrant, tense song that pretty much defines the rest of the album; this is an album that is, at times, an exercise in suspense and, on others, a stressful affair, as if making its way through the alien streets of Tehran.

Like the movie, this is a soundtrack that gives you the impression of constantly being watched, constantly being chased and constantly in a hurry. Notable examples of this are “Tony Grills the Six“, “Drive to the Airport” and “Bazaar“. And like a river flowing towards an incredible Ocean, it all comes together in the masterpiece “Cleared Iranian Airspace“, a song that is beautiful, well-rounded and that brings the story to a wonderful conclusion. In that way, Argo reminded me of Braveheart’s soundtrack, which also builds up beautifully throughout and wraps up with an all-time favorite of mine, “‘Freedom’/The Execution Bannockburn“.

The soundtrack’s final song, “Hace Tuto Guagua” is a beautiful humming song, that I believe accompanied the very final moments of the movie as well as the credits. It was composed by Familion. I couldn’t find much information about them online so if anyone can point me in their direction, just shout it out in the comments.