When Disney Russia’s epic fantasy film The Last Warrior: Root of Evil, the second in a planned trilogy, was released last month, it became an instant classic, earning rave reviews and setting new box office records, even with COVID-19 restrictions.
The tale follows Ivan, a young man living in the present day who travels through a magical portal to the ancient world of Belogorie, where dragons, magic and fairytale creatures abound. The first film, The Last Warrior, shattered Russian box office records in 2017, and earned a devout following among children and adults alike. The sequel is on track to surpass those records.
The film’s director Dmitriy Dyachenko attributes a substantial part of its success to the score by LA composer George Kallis praising the soundtrack for creating the definitive sound of the Russian folktale-inspired franchise: “We needed a composer who has a great understanding of complex storylines and character development, and who could bring an epic Russian fantasy world to reality. George’s music lifts our energetic action scenes, bright comedic moments and tender lyrical scenes, greatly enhancing the dramatic arcs of our film.”
Kallis received the Jerry Goldsmith Award for Best Score for The Last Warrior in 2017. He began working on the score for Root of Evil just as the pandemic was forcing the world to shut down. Because of the new restrictions, Kallis had to plan everything from his home in Los Angeles, using musicians scattered around the globe.
Working remotely thousands of miles away from Moscow, Kallis drew inspiration from the commonalities between his Greek background and Russian folk instruments and liturgical music. The composer explains: “The soundtrack was recorded with a 70-piece orchestra and 44-person choir layered with ethnic instruments that are incorporated in both Greek and Russian traditions, such as the Greek Cretan Lyra or the Russian Gudok which both were derived from the Byzantine Lyra. This colourful sound forms the opening music of the film.”
Kallis adds: “In Root of Evil, our protagonists, including Vasilisa and the evil queen Varvara, take a long trip through plains, snowy mountains, the skies and the underworld, and this was the perfect visual template for a highly energetic fantasy score. We revisit established musical motives from the first film while also introducing new thematic material, particularly for the malicious forces that haunt our protagonists.”
The soundtrack is available to download on all major digital musical platforms.
About George Kallis: The recipient of the Jerry Goldsmith Award and the International Film Music Critics Award, LA composer’s George Kallis’s work spans the globe. George started his career in Cyprus. He has composed scores for over 35 films including Disney’s The Last Warrior Trilogy, Highlander The Source, Cliffs of Freedom and the Greek action movie ‘Short Fuse’. He has written TV music for Emmy and Bafta Award-winning programs, such as BBC Horizon and My Life on CBBC.