Film scores

Soundtrack review: The better angels (Hanan Townshend – 2014)

“The better angels” is the kind of score that hits a chord inside me and I could listen to it for hours

“The better angels” is a movie produced by Terrence Malick (the director of “The thin red line”). It takes a poetic approach to Abraham Lincoln’s childhood in the harsh wilderness of Indiana.

Composer Hanan Townshend does a great job of bringing the listener in the atmosphere of those times. After a couple of orchestral themes (the two “Growth” cues) I feel chills when I listen to Dread, which is cold and unforgiving and it depicts the wilderness in the movie.  The mood of this score is familiar to me; it reminds me of the Nick Cave and Warren Ellis scores. It has the same meaningful emptiness and the same melodic loneliness. If you are in the right state of mind this score is amazing. In a normal state of mind it still is a beautiful and interesting composition. Just don’t expect action, don’t expect sudden bursts or changes in pace. “The better angels” burns slowly and dies down every now and then, like a fire at night in a cold and empty prairie.

There is one single long theme on this score: “Seasons” clocks in at 6 minutes compared to the other cues which stop at less than two minutes. The fluidity of this score makes me not even realize when this long cue kicks in or ends. The mood doesn’t change and I’m ok with it. The only moments of hope are the ones when the flute takes over or some rays of light represented by some lonely chords break the gray.

“The better angels” is the kind of score that hits a chord inside me and I could listen to it for hours. I know exactly the moments when I will need this beautiful and moody composition and I will certainly keep it close. And can I say that the two “Growth for flute” cues made me think of the “Love theme” from Twin Peaks…?

The album also contains  a few beautiful symphonic movements which blend in with the score material.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 16 / 22

Album excellence: 71%

Highlights:

Emergence

Blossoming

Seasons

Growth No.1 For Flutes

Growth No.2 For Flutes

 

About the author

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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