TV

Soundtrack review: And then there were none (Stuart Earl – 2016)

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“And Then There Were None” is a 2015 British-American mystery drama thriller television serial based on Agatha Christie’s novel of the same name. On a hot day in late August sometime in the late 1930s eight people, all strangers to each other, are invited to a small, isolated island off the coast of Devon, England, by a “Mr and Mrs Owen”. They settle in at a mansion tended by two newly hired servants, Thomas and Ethel Rogers, but their hosts are absent. When the guests sit down to dinner, they notice the centrepiece, ten figurines of soldiers in a circle. Afterward, Thomas Rogers puts on a gramophone record, from which a voice accuses them all of murder. Shortly after this, one of the party dies from poisoning, and after this more and more people are murdered, all in methods synonymous with a nursery rhyme the island is named after. The murderer removes a figurine from the dining table each time someone is killed. All this time, the survivors race against time to find out who the killer is, and if he or she is one of them. The score was written by Stuart Earl.

Naturally having read the story so many times I have my mind made up about the atmosphere and how I would like the music to be. The score is very short and the composer wastes no time so “A past remembered”, the opening cue, drops a dark veil around me to make sure I’m in the mood for what’s about to follow.  Reviews about the series are that they did a great job in reflecting the darkness of Agatha Christie’s novel and the music does the same thing.

The story is setup like a theater play: almost a single décor and the same characters talking, interacting, wondering. I’m surprised that the composer spends so much time, four cues, on the journey to the island. I will have to verify this when I see the show but I don’t know if the boat ride is that important to the plot. I do like how menacing these cues sound. I would have turned back instantly if I was them. I feel as if I’m listening to the journey to Skull Island where King Kong awaits.

The music is as elegant as it is dark. An orchestral score always brings more emotion and makes the feelings more intense. The deep and somber cello motifs, the ambient echoes which sometimes sound like distant hums coming closer and closer play like nightmares. I feel a claw gripping my heart as I listen to this score and I see no way out.

Stuart Earl set up to terrify the listener and make him feel uncomfortable and threatened. He succeeded brilliantly and I can’t wait to hear the score in the context of the series. Don’t expect playful period cues or smiles in “And then there were none”. This one is like a thick and dark sea in the middle of a moonless night.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 12 / 23

Album excellence: 53%

Highlights:

01_a Past Remembered

03_journeys

05_arrival At Soldier Island

07_remorse

12_longing

14_conclusion

15_and Then There Were None 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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