Caracara DVD cover

Television film released by HBO Home Video

No score soundtrack available; released on DVD

Music clip 1, 1'34" (740Kb) [Title music, inc. 'Melodic theme A']
Music clip 2, 0'24" (195Kb) ['Melodic theme B']
Music clip 3, 0'35" (282Kb) ['Melodic theme C'.
NB This clip contains language unsuitable for young people]


Caracara is the story of a woman (ornithologist Rachel, a bird-owning Natasha Henstridge of Species fame) whose appartment is used by assassins in their attempt to kill a visiting Nelson Mandella. Duped into thinking they are federal agents, she is at first romantically attached to the leader (David), and after thwarting their plans, becomes his key target. Side characters include her mother, Cynthia, best friend Christie, and a cop, Jack. Although there are a few set-pieces, this is a low-budget thriller hiding behind its star attraction (and some brief nudity), and it is very much down to Christophe Beck to add a sense of threat to the atmosphere. This is he does without too much trouble, mixing synths, low piano timbres, wordless soprano vocals, and a few running key themes and motifs. The result is a reasonably compact score that contrasts relaxed major key music with the minor key and dissonant to give the film a sense of danger neither script nor camera work really succeed in. Budgetary contraints are effectively hidden by the composer's use (well-practiced in his days scoring Buffy) of synths mixed discretely with live performers.

N.B. The webmaster very much objects to Rachel's choice of background music in her appartment. She lacks taste! The worst "hold-please" phone music!

With regards to the cue-by-cue below, 'melodic theme A' probably represents the film or the bird, 'melodic theme B' for Rachel; electronic effects (samples, etc., many very atmospheric, some appear to be based on electric guitar noises) and repeated piano motifs for baddy David, suspense and the evil of his crimes.

Webmaster's additional:

0:0'00"-0:4'02" Opening titles. Cool beat, non-instrumental sounds, voice ('melodic theme A' at ca.0'36"), harp, strings dominate. Moody, with more than a hint of his music for Buffy, understandable because of the film's timing and the film's subject of a woman in peril from the unknown. Much use made of slurring two notes together (often tremolo strings with doubling flute, rising a semi-tone: 'slurred-note-pair'), which gives a feeling of evil intent, over an insistent harp accompaniment, stressing urgency. [EXAMPLE 0-1'30" fade out = CLIP1 ]

0:9'04"-0:10'32 Company in the house. 'Melodic theme A' played by strings with the slurred-note-pair motif led by flute. / Rachel snoops while the agents sleep. A suspensful cue featuring light percussion and piano

0:11'29"-0:11'55 A pleasant piano/harp tune ('Melodic theme B') [see CLIP2] with some occasional subtle strings

0:14'14"-0:15'29 'Melodic theme B' returns, or rather a variant of it with recognizable second half, this time rather comfortably led by clarinet. A creepy (unmelodic) end matches the film's less certain tone with regards to the FBI agents

0:17'00"-0:17'58" String-led underscore. Hints most likely at the slurred-note-pair motif in its underscoring of the stilted meeting between mother (Cynthia) and daughter. It moves into a cor anglais solo, a mellow variant of 'Melodic theme B'.

0:21'40"-0:23'51" Aborted sex scene. Synths/percussion - sensuous but creepy. Although much slower and much altered, the leading theme here (played on electric cello) is a development of 'Melodic theme B' (the first part at least).

0:24'09"-0:25'13" Low clarinet returns to the lonely 'melodic theme A' and heralds a return of the female voice. Rachel perhaps regrets halting the intentions of the FBI man.

0:25'48"-0:26'15" Short cue, electronic-based. The FBI agent as predator.

0:26'53"-0:27'07" Short cue. FBI agents looking shifty, while Rachel's mother drops by her apartment.

0:28'22"-0:36'15" Short cue, including a close variation of 'melodic theme B' in its 14'14" version. Lulled into a false sense of security, Beck throws heavy percussion and brass at the audience as the 'agents' overpower Rachel. After she is restrained a new(?), self-repeating piano theme ('melodic theme C' at ca.30'00") [see CLIP3], barely more than an accompanying motif, underscores the 'agents'' actions. On finding her newly purchased underwear, David realises how close he was to bedding her, and Beck accompanies this with a shakey string line fragment of 'melodic theme B'. 'Melodic theme C' and a melodic line from the main title's slurred-note-pair motif follow the terrorist plan in preparation. At 34'00" brass returns as Rachel foils baddy David's plans. Much of the rest of this cue involves synth-heavy brutal underscore. By 35'55" all is ended and a melancholy theme (built from the same slurred-note-pair motif) rounds off the scene.

0:39'02"-0:40'28" A return of the vocal theme ('melodic theme A') as Rachel revisits the crime scene of her department, followed by an oboe melody in a similar vein

0:41'05"-0:42'19" Clarinet plays 'melodic theme B' with quiet strings as Jack tries to distract Rachel with talk of his bird and daughter. In the park the music broadens somewhat with strings doubled by flute. A descent to low strings at the end as the scene shifts to the manhunt reports

0:44'02"-0:45'50" Claustrophobic low electronics and beat with high whines and a high string line completing the scene of David disguising himself for further mischief

0:46'52"-0:48'25" Menacing dropping semi-tone melodic shifts with minor electronic effects, shifting instrumentation to a repeated piano motif (different to 'melodic theme C' but no doubt giving the same tone) with cor anglais, and then to an electronic effects-heavy section as David kills his go-between. The cue ends on a low piano note as he leaves the scene

0:49'18"-0:50'30" 'Melodic theme B' treated with restraint (poignancy?), mostly on strings, as Rachel arrives at her mother's house

0:50'36"-0:51'42" Low strings, low and atmospheric electronic effects, as David visits Rachel's friend Christie to get Rachel's current wherabouts

0:52'35"-0:53'09" The motif from the second half of 'melodic theme B' returns as Rachel and her mother spend time together. Strings, flute

0:53'53"-0:55'27" A variant of 'melodic theme B' for flute over strings and harp. This shifts into a relaxed piano line, again with strings

0:55'01"-1:05'45" Low brass line, eerie (glissando) strings, electronic effects - as David gets to Cynthia. The music broadens out by 57'04" into scurrying strings, punctuated by very low piano notes, brass and percussion. At 57'30" the action turns to suspense, and the music follows this with further use of electronic effects (some of them harking back to the very beginning of the film's opening titles), and strings (the semi-tone is very prevalent). At 59'01" the action music returns as Rachel escapes David's clutches and gets to the police car. After this, a cor anglais line accompanies a return to help Cynthia, and then a return to electronics/strings as David makes his getaway.

1:02'19"-1:03'30" Clarinet in a very low ebb version of 'melodic theme B' (minor strings/bass drum) as Rachel learns of Christie's death

1:04'42"-1:07'12" Another change of identity for the baddy, accompanied by electronic effects, bass drum, percussion and dissonant string chords.

1:08'37"-1:09'50" Low strings and electronic effects underscore a plotters' meeting

1:12'45"-1:17'30" Again, low strings and electronic effects. This time with a military feel - percussion, brass line. The plot takes shape (at the final Nelson Mandella reception). At ca.1:13'56" 'melodic theme A' returns over this sonic backing. At ca.1:14'40" this calms as we revisit the cop, Jack, and Rachel, who are to attend the reception, and reprises material from 'melodic theme B', hushed. At ca.1:15'35" the military music returns for a return to the reception, and this time the brass line is definitely using 'melodic theme A'. The cue ends with 30 seconds of a held high string note and quietly threatening low strings.

1:19'10"-1:19'35" Underscoring the tension, including a striking 3-note motif for low brass (this sounds like it could be a 'theme D', though Bluntinstrument cannot remember it from elsewhere in the score) heard before the last assasination; back to (now slightly muffled and intermittent due to dialogue) low strings, electronic effects, etc. at 1:20'00" clustered high strings and high wining noise herald the start of the second assasination attempt. Drums help drive the action, with rasping synths used almost percussively. A semi-tonal droop for tremolo upper strings (slurred-note-pair) perhaps harks back to 46'52" and to the opening motif. A low piano line at 1:21'04" is joined by strings, with drums kept in as a driving force (this adds to the momentum they had before). An ever changing mix of ingredients used since 1:12'45" is used to underscore the action as assassin, president, conspirators, Jack and Rachel run in various directions. At 1:22'49" clustered trilling upper strings herald another killing. At 1:23'11" the re-entry of female voice from the opening titles (different theme, using the drooping slurred-note-pair), over the drum beats and percussive synths, bring us back full circle as loose ends are tied up. All ends abruptly with the top-of-building stand-off at 1:23'40".

1:24'03"-1:24'34" Plenty of atmospheric synths, low drums, and some upper strings: "no kill, no thrill".

1:24'39"-1:25'38" A gloomy version of 'theme B' as the assassin says his final words. After his death, a brief variant of 'theme A' underscores the relief.

1:25'38"-1:26'22" Atmospheric synths, then scurrying low strings, punctuated by drums (some African feel for the protagonist) and low piano notes (the latter reminiscent of 57'04"), and ending with rising glissando synths. Final conspiracy loose end tied up.

1:26'22"-1:29'13" Low clarinet line develops and extends 'theme A' as Rachel returns home with the Jack. At 1:27'39" the return of the piano (and then more mid-register clarinet) utilises a variant of 'theme B' for the return and feeding of Humphrey. After a cor anglais has a turn with the melodic line, the wordless female voice enters again at 1:28'46" with a variant of 'theme A' - not quite totally major-key (it ends still in the minor), but more positive and relaxed.

1:29'13"-1:32'25" Opening titles music is reprised, and then extended with a minor-key-set 'theme B', with tremolo semi-tones ('slurred-note-pairs') continuing, and then a reprise of 'theme A' for female voice, with an added cool-drum touch.

Film music credits