By Karol Krok
Marco Beltrami was extremely busy in the past few years – over the course of that period ten films he graced ten films with his musical voice. They were varying in genres – from the big Michael Kamen love letter in A Good Day to Die Hard to gentle western of The Homesman. From big orchestras to small chamber-like ensembles. It’s quite a testament to composer’s ever widening versatility and impressive progeny.
The Giver is a second s-f film on that list but it cannot be any more different from popular Snowpiercer. That production presented was underscored with weird and eclectic mix of music to paint a grotesque and strange world. In the case of Philip Noyce’s project, Beltrami establishes a much more accessible and warm sound for a science fiction genre. Gentle synthesisers, guitar, light choir, warm harmonies – almost everything you don’t hear very often in this composer’s oeuvre. The sound palette perfectly describes and illustrates a seemingly perfect utopian where nothing is exactly what it seems.
The main theme is introduced appropriately in ‘Main Titles’. It is a simple but pleasant tune that will grow and develop over the course of this album. The statement in the first few tracks are harder to spot, obviously – it’s the type of simple phrase that becomes apparent only after the first complete listen. Which is, given coming of age nature of plot, completely appropriate. In the following track it receives a bit more assured statement and another gentle and uncertain variations towards the end of ‘Arriving at the Giver’s’ and at the beginning of ‘First Memory’. Later on in that cue, the it develops into something a bit more profound.
The tone shifts about halfway into the album when brief tense interlude in ‘Happiness & Pain’ suddenly undermines the seemingly peaceful status-quo. The lovely piano-led ‘What Is Love?’ returns to the previous state of things with an absolutely gorgeous writing – some of the sweetest in Beltrami’s repertoire. This moment is brief, however, as ‘War’ ventures into even darker territories. The tense percussion and ominous textures creep into this peaceful world and there are here to stay. There is only one more brief emotional moment in ‘The Kiss’ but also underpinned with a pinch of uncertainty.
‘Jonas Runs Away’ offers a first action cue in the score. But it’s not until ‘Escape from the Nursery’ that things start really cooking. Brass, remaining in a mostly dormant state up to this point, gets a bit more to do here. The relatively brief, but tense, outbursts in the following tracks carry on with that sound. The main theme is turned into an action ostinato in ‘Jonas Captured’ where Marco Beltrami turns it into something bleak and desperate.
The ethereal ‘Rosebud’ enters with a touch if mystery – provided by voices and strings. The electronics soon join along with brass starting the main theme in an uplifting, but somewhat more adult, fashion. The lovely chorus closes the album with the accompanying cello in ‘End Credits. The orchestra soon joins in to widen the spectrum. It is in this piece that main theme is developed into its most complete form. Easily the best track on the Sony Classical soundtrack album.
The Giver will be one of Beltrami’s most accessible and pleasant works to date. The undemanding 50-minute disc will be an easy recommendation to any Marco Beltrami fan. While the main theme is really subtle and not as obvious at first, its development over the course of the score and album is interesting and well handled by this composer. Subtle and intelligent.
The Giver is out now from Sony Classical