Film scores

Soundtrack review: 400 days (Wojciech Golczewski – 2016)

“400 days “by Matt Osterman and New Artists Alliance is a psychological sci-fi film centering on four astronauts who are sent on a simulated mission to a distant planet to test the psychological effects of deep space travel. Locked away for 400 days, the crew’s mental state begins to deteriorate when they lose all communication with the outside world. Forced to exit the ship, they discover that this mission may not have been a simulation after all. The score was written by Wojciech Golczewski and I’m always eager to meet a new composer from the Polish school of film music.

Now a story like this makes me wish for experimental and uncomfortable music that mirrors what the crew has to go through. Before that though the score welcomes me with a keyboard theme, easy to hum and recognize. I can see the opening credits playing when I hear the title cue.

When I listen to a score for a story set in space, or about isolation I turn into a scavenger looking for the slightest traces of ambient music. I look for them and collect them no matter how short or scattered they might be. Atmospheric music is my drug and I need the fix regardless of the dose. “The hatch” and “The ship” have moments like those before both the ship and the score “Take off”. I get vibes of John Murphy’s “Sunshine” in this cue. I loved that score and the way the musical odyssey mirrored the vastness of the space adventures. The electronic sounds are there, the button presses and the dreamy illusions. I don’t need a score like this to be exceptional to enjoy it and remember it, I only need the atmosphere.

But this is a story about isolation and confinement. The music paints the discomfort of the situation very well with dark and razor sharp industrial motifs. Those are the musical layers that make up the walls. I am more drawn to the rays of emotion in cues like “You and I” and I like the way the joyful beginning sort of dissolves towards the end as if it was just an illusion. I get the image of someone’s face suddenly turning up to be just a hologram when a glitch happens.

Complete with scary moments like the suffocating “The thing” or “The creature is gone” and with a metallic texture that never lets me forget where the story takes place, “400 days” checks all the marks a score for a Sci-fi movie should check. The atmosphere is there and well-crafted but still I would have liked the composer to have dared to explore even deeper the feelings of discomfort and mental deterioration of the characters. The music focuses a lot on the exploration part and not that much on the internal effects of the isolation.

Cue rating: 81 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 9 / 51

Album excellence: 18%

Highlights:

04 Take Off

05 Time

08 You And I

15 Zell

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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