Type to search

Soundtrack review: Knight of cups (Hanan Townshend – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Knight of cups (Hanan Townshend – 2015)


“Knight of Cups” is a 2015 American experimental drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick and produced by Nicolas Gonda, Sarah Green and Ken Kao. The film stars an ensemble cast of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Brian Dennehy, Freida Pinto, Imogen Poots, Isabel Lucas, Teresa Palmer and Wes Bentley. Loosely inspired by and at times quoting directly from both the 1678 Christian allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress and the passage Hymn of the Pearl from the Acts of Thomas[5], the film follows depressed Los Angeles screenwriter Rick (Christian Bale) on an odyssey through the playgrounds of Los Angeles and Las Vegas as he undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women. The score was written by Hanan Townshend, always an exciting name to hear.

Now Malick is a one of a kind film maker and he made the movie which has, for me, the best score of all time, Hans Zimmer’s “Thin red line”. Lately his composer of choice has been Hanan Townshend and I think he’s the kind of composer that can understand and complete the vision of this unique director. The score also includes classical works from Debussy, Grieg and also Ralph Vaugh Williams who is Lorne Balfe’s favorite classical music composer (bet you didn’t know that). There are also a couple of themes from Wojciech Kilar.

Now I’ve watched Terrence Malick films and they are all about reflection and visual poetry. For me this kind of canvas can be home to my favorite type of scores. I love minimalistic and reflective music and I love to get lost in a composition that plays like an empty and endless beach. “Water theme no 1” immediately makes me think of Arvo Part and his soulful and poignant brand of minimalism. The music travels familiar paths inside me and takes me to one of my favorite places. I adore the slow way in which it develops; I love the pace at which Hanan Townshend moves his composition. I listen to “Spiral” and somehow, amazingly to me, I hear echoes of “The thin red line”. Every cue from “Knight of cups” is worth days of meditation, reflection and soul searching. I wish this score was longer; actually I wish this score would never end. I wish I could have it somewhere playing in the background at all times to I know that when I need it I can just mute out the outside world and listen to it.

Comfortably seated right at the border between classical and minimalistic, “Knight of cups” is a special kind of score that hypnotizes me and puts me in a reflective trance. The more I listen to Hanan Townshend’s music the more addicted I am and with every score he boroughs himself deeper inside my heart. Definitely give this one a listen whether you are a fan of the film maker or not. My review focused just on the score itself but the other pieces on the album are just as exciting.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 22

Album excellence: 100%


Water Theme No. 1


The Pilgrim


Water Theme No. 2

Thomas Tallis Theme


Water Theme No. 3


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).

  • 1

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.