SNOW FLOWER & THE SECRET FAN - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2011)

The first track of this 57 minute soundtrack album, “Lily Meets Snow Flower”, sets the mood for a sweeping drama set in the Oriental East. The moment you hear the beautiful main theme, you can imagine beautiful landscapes, beautiful people and beautiful costumes unfolding before your eyes.

Based on the best selling novel by Lisa See, the Wayne Wang directed film tells the story of two Chinese women who go through thick and thin as their friendship sustains them for life. Starring the beautiful Li Bingbing and Gianna Jun, this film set in 19th century China boasts of a gorgeous soundtrack score composed by Oscar winning Rachel Portman (Emma).

While not as prolific as her American counterparts, the British composer is known for her delicate compositions which have added a lovely touch to films like The Joy Luck Club (1993) and The Cider House Rules (1999). Here, she makes full use of oriental instruments like the erhu, pipa and ethnic flute to paint a luscious picture of splendour and exquisiteness.

The easily identifiable main theme is repeated throughout the soundtrack, and through other instruments like the violin, cello and harp, you do not feel that the theme is overused. Each cue has its own unique identify which does not seem repetitive.

Tracks like “The Secret Fan”, “Nina Passes Note” and “Letters at the Airport” are soothing and comforting to listen to, and they do a great job at calming down your nerves. Several moods are explored in Portman’s compositions here, like the darker moments in tracks like “Forbidden to See”, “Snowflower’s Bad Fortune” and “I Cannot Be What You Wish”, but she still manages to instill a restrainedly gorgeous atmosphere into each of these cues.

As the album ends on a charming note in “We Will Be Laotong”, you will be swept away by the striking orchestrations conjured by the female composer (a very apt choice to score an intimate drama like this). If you are a fan of beautiful music, we are pretty sure you will be revisiting this album very often.   


Recommended Track: (18) We Will Be Laotong

Review by John Li


Lily Meets Snow Flower
The Letterbox
The Secret Fan
Dalang's Return 
Forbidden To See
Nina Passes Note
Lily Leaves To Marry
Sophia Offers Comfort
Snowflower's Bad Fortune
Letters At The Airport
Snow Flower's Tears 
14 Nina Finds Manuscript 
15 The Suit
16 I Cannot Be What You Wish
17 Snowflower Arrives Late
18 We Will be Laotong



Composer: Rachel Portman
Label: Sony Masterworks
Release Date: July 12, 2011