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Soundtrack review: Gold (Daniel Pemberton – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Gold (Daniel Pemberton – 2016)


“Gold” is a 2016 American crime adventure film directed by Stephen Gaghan and written by Gaghan, Patrick Massett and John Zinman. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramírez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell, Craig T. Nelson, Stacy Keach and Bruce Greenwood. The film is loosely based on the true story of the 1993 Bre-X mining scandal, when a massive gold deposit was supposedly discovered in the jungles of Indonesia, however for legal reasons and to enhance the appeal of the film, character names and story details were changed.Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey), an unlucky businessman, teams up with geologist Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez) to find gold deep in the uncharted jungles of Borneo, Indonesia. Matthew McConaughey chasing treasures…We’ve seen that before in Sahara I think. The music was written by Daniel Pemberton and I am a fan still on the high of “The man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “Jobs”.

My mind wanders when “I dream of Gold” starts to Morricone’s  “The ecstasy of gold”, one of my favorite cues of all times; of course it’s not the same thing as this dream here is smaller scaled but it still glimmers. I was curious if his music would focus on the adventure or on the atmosphere and as I listen to the funky (yep, here’s the vibe I loved so much in “The man from U.N.C.L.E) “The ring of fire I – The prospector” I get my answer; Pemberton will not limit himself to just one thing and mold his music over the story, setting and characters. Yeah I know the story is set in the 90s but man can Daniel Pemberton nail the funk that’s more appropriate for the 70s…I hear “At the sound of a bell” and I am in spy mode, looking over my shoulders and trying to stay in the shadows. The woodwind instruments and percussion also help with the jungle setting and I already have a favorite piece which reminds me of “Escape from East Berlin”.

I like listening to a score and discovering familiar and favorite elements from that composer’s arsenal in them. It’s the case here as “Gold” contains motifs and techniques from Daniel Pemberton’s comfort zone. Even when he writes the comedic moments of the movie the woodwind instruments prevent the music from becoming silly. I feel as if the composer is playing as well and I enjoy his experiments. A cue like “Indo” shows exactly what I mean.

My favorite parts from this score are the ones that are best explored in “The New York Jungle” and “It’s gone”: funky, dark and alert. I can’t get enough of a cue like this and I feel the need to pump the volume higher and higher and to get out of my chair and move. The other end of the spectrum is represented by the moody guitar pieces like “Hey, it’s me”. In the middle there’s suspense, thick and alluring so there’s really not a lot missing to make this a very enjoyable score. Daniel Pemberton doesn’t disappoint. Based on the music I definitely want to see the movie.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 20 / 49

Album excellence: 41%


The Ring Of Fire I – The Prospector

At The Sound Of The Bell

Vintage Visa

The New York Jungle

The Golden Pickaxe

The Ring Of Fire II – The Partner

It’s Gone

The Disappearance Of Michael Acosta



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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