Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Martian (Harry Gregson Williams – 2015)

martian

Ridley Scott and Harry Gregson-Williams… two of my dearest names in the film world. It’s been ten years since they last collaborated on the magnificent “Kingdom of heaven”. Since then Ridley has gone with Marc Streitenfeld for his movies (worked for me) or Alberto Iglesias for “Exodus”. Harrgy Gregson-Williams collaborated with a couple of great cues on that one as well. I am still waiting for him to get back to the legendary level of scores like “Spy game” and “Man on fire”, because during the past 10 years his output has been rather generic. The movie is “The Martian” which looks like a companion movie for “Interstellar” and I can’t wait to see it. I can’t imagine not loving this movie. It starts Matt Damon as an astronaut who is presumed dead and left behind on the planet Mars, and he fights to survive the situation and this could be the story of his Interstellar character. Jessica Chastain is in there as well.

The opening is intriguing and addictive. “Mars” is the kind of atmospheric cue which raises questions which the composer promises will be answered in this score. It’s mysterious and alluring and I get a feeling of “Alien” atmosphere in there. The opening theme is quiet but says a lot. It builds up into the even more exciting “Emergency lauch”. I like where Harry Gregson Williams is going with this. No more generic sounds… this is a score which has a purpose and a constant pounding rhythm which gradually grows in intensity. This score is alive and suddenly from behind a rock during that emergency launch the gorgeous and subtle emotional outburst that made “Spy game” one of my favorite scores ever emerges and hits me full force.

Oh yes I love the sound of this score. The electronic moments are simple and rewarding. There’s that feeling of space, of excitement, of discovery and this is a reinvention or rebirth of Harry Gregson Williams’ music and I am very happy to witness and enjoy it. Something inside “Making water” brings the nostalgia of a lonely winter. Yes, this score is lonely and intimate. Contained and with bursts of emotion mirroring, I imagine, those of someone left behind, alone, for years. The score is melodic and sweet. I love everything about it. It makes me remember countless hours spent listening to Mike Oldfield’s music. It’s as if Harry Gregson Williams wiped his music draft sheet clear and started from an empty page, big and white. He cleared his mind of anything other than this dream of isolation and carefully put on notes what he felt. You can tell that this was a score written with heart and passion.

The composer helps us follow the life, evolution and growth in a story. The score for “The Martian” is a story in itself; it doesn’t need images or scenes. It brings enough joy and rewards on its own. This score is life. If you love melodic electronic music this one is for you. Same if you love dreamy music. The combination of these two brings space exploration to life in our ears. There’s a wink of nostalgia even towards old game scores…

…and then there’s “Crossing Mars”. The cue that trumps them all in “The Martian”, the heart of this score. This theme is spectacular and melodic space poetry and is on my list of best cues of 2015. Very high on that list. It’s a theme which can sit proudly among the most magnificent and legendary Sci-fi movie themes ever composer. Harry Gregson Williams delivers one of my favorite scores this year with this goose bump inducing cherry on top. Do not miss this one!

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 38 / 52

Album excellence: 73%

Highlights:

Mars

Emergency Launch

Making Water

Science the S*** Out of This

Messages from Hermes

Sprouting Potatoes

Pathfinder

Hexadecimals

Crossing Mars

Crops Are Dead

See you in a few

“I Got Him!”

 

 

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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