Film scores

Soundtrack review: Z for Zachariah (Heather McIntosh – 2015)

ZForZachariah

“Z for Zachariah” is a post-apocalyptic story about a girl who believes she is the last human on Earth when she meets both a scientist looking for survivors and another guy. The two men start competing for her affections and from this synopsis one might say that they are all losing sight of the bigger picture. The score was written by Heather McIntosh, a composer I am not familiar with. She was already quite big name in music before writing her first score, having toured and collaborated with a few well known artists and bands.

The opening theme is like a poster for the current trend in film music and especially in post-apocalyptic stories: minimalistic orchestral beauty. I wish this trend would never end because I can’t get enough of minimalistic gems like this. My favorite kind of music is the one that helps me reflect and lets my mind wonder and the subdued and echo like sound of “Zachariah” acts like a warm blanket on a cold day for me. I don’t care about the world outside; I found my warm and comfortable place and I am not leaving it. And since I am finally warm and under that blanket I keep drifting in and out of consciousness. I fall asleep for minutes at a time and then something wakes me up and the cycle repeats itself. The music Heather McIntosh wrote has this effect on me. Sometimes I hear it and I go with it while other moments it gets too quiet and I forget it’s there. I do know that I am safe to drift off because when I will come back the music will still be there, flowing gently around me.

The most meaningful moments are the ones where the strings come in. I feel chills and wrap that blanket even tighter around me. I love the cello and when I listen to this score I realized that the composer must love it as well. Moments like “Hymn part II” make me so happy. The louder moments are also beautiful because they are punctuated by the organ play of the main character. Instruments come and go like thoughts in this semi awake state and even if my body is stuck in the chamber the music is played in, my mind roams free using then notes as countless butterflies to carry it far away.

There is a musical story in “Z for Zachariah”, quiet and full of heart. It’s a story I will want to hear again and again because it meant something to me. The music is all natural and orchestral and this is the kind of warmth you can’t get from synthetic products. Nice to meet you, Heather McIntosh! I am looking forward to hearing more from you.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 37 / 53

Album excellence: 71%

Highlights:

Outside The Valley

A Stranger

Prayer

Library

Lady

Generator

Ann Plays

A Visitor

First Meal

The Hunt

The Church

After A Walk

Everyone Working

Electricity

Hymn Part I

Hymn Part II

End credits

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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