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Soundtrack review: The imitation game (Alexandre Desplat – 2014)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The imitation game (Alexandre Desplat – 2014)


“The imitation game” is a movie about Alan Turing, the British mathematician who was a key figure in cracking Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during WWII. Being such a high profile script and movie, with lots of award potential, Alexandre Desplat was the first name they had in mind for the score. My relationship with Desplat’s music has been rocky so far. Most of the times I loved his compositions in context, but as a standalone listen, 90% of them bored me to hell. None of his scores were bad, far from it. Just mostly bland…All this made me very skeptical upon ever new release from him. I have to admit he’s one of the composers I get least excited about. I am expecting another generic piano / action score here as well…

The subject of the movie made me think, partly, of “A beautiful mind”. The first cue, “The imitation game”, and then cues like “Alan” or “Mission” met my expectations and were actually quite exciting. “Crosswords” also made me think of the atmosphere James Horner set in the score I mentioned, and I am already warming up to Desplat’s score. I am a big fan on piano based scores and this one seems to be hitting the mark.

The more I listen to the score, the more it reminds me of “Ghost writer”. It has the same atmosphere, the same sense of urgency, the same furious piano in parts. It’s suspenseful and alert in the same time. “The machine Christopher” actually sounds like a good running track. The next track is actually called “Running”, but it works for different moments. It’s a sensible track which switches tone very naturally. It is one of the most beautiful cues from this score. “A different equation” turns into a beautiful atmospheric track from the middle on. “The apple” is another highlight, a touching little melody that really spoke to me.

The atmosphere set by “The imitation game”, especially in the second half of the score when things settle down and move towards the inside made me care for what the composer wanted to transmit. Desplat showed a sensibility I hadn’t really noticed in him until now, and this score ends up as my favorite from his 2014 efforts, above “The monuments men” and “Godzilla”. “The imitation game” ends as beautifully as it began: “Alan Turing’s legacy” is a wonderful epilogue for a surprisingly good score.


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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