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Soundtrack review: Goodbye Christopher Robin (Carter Burwell – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Goodbye Christopher Robin (Carter Burwell – 2017)

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“Goodbye Christopher Robin” gives a rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children’s author A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his son Christopher Robin (Will Tilston), whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie-the-Pooh. Along with his mother Daphne (Margot Robbie), and his nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald), Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family? The score was written by Carter Burwell.

Carter Burwell is one of the composer who knows how to write emotional scores the best. Just last year I was touched and moved by his “The finest hours” album. Here, he starts with “Tree of memory”, the tenderest blend of piano and guitar that tells me I am in for another score that will make an impression. It’s the fairy tale opening I was hoping for, elegant and alluring. The tone is set for serious and elegant at the beginning of the score, with Victoria like flute and piano musings. Burwell keeps the emotional level to natural, not going too deep or too dramatic in a way to musically describe ad idyllic life. The flute is the best way to play about farm life and I am enchanted by the first few cues of this score. This is a story about fairytales and toys and what better way to convey that in music then through flute and harp, the two tenderest instruments, the two most innocent instruments. I am just happy to follow the musical journey the orchestra invites me on. There is a sublime flute motif in “To the zoo” which represents one of the peaks of this score.

There is nothing not to enjoy in this elegant orchestral celebration; it’s a composition that’s both elegant and playful, dreamy and nostalgic, and it may be the first musical fairy tale Carter Burwell has written. I listen to the soft and comfortable orchestral sounds, to the flute, to the harp and I feel my imagination going back to when I was a child, carefree, playing all day long, drawing, writing, growing. This score is like the safest and most pleasant sanctuary of warmth. The music isn’t always joyful as there are moments when real life interferes but no matter what happens in the story, the music stays elegant and pleasant to listen to.

I took much delight in listening to “Goodbye Christopher Rabin”; every now and then an orchestral score comes long that is only concerned with bringing joy to the listeners. Each cue from this score is a nugget of playful elegance and I feel carefree and happy as I listen to them. Carter Burwell really took to the story and the characters and made “Goodbye Christopher Robin” the most pleasant of standalone listens. In “Keep your memories” I remembered my favourite cue from last year, “Safe harbour” and Carter Burwell makes sure he won’t from this year’s best of list of cues. Once the music is over I remain happy and in a dreamy state and what more could I ask from a score?

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 29 / 54

Album excellence: 54%

Highlights:
Tree of Memory
Toys and Stars
Goes to Town in a Golden Gown
To the Zoo
Balloons
Snowfall, Snowrise
Drawing Pooh
Fame
Keep Your Memories
Down the Stairs, Nobody Cares
Not Another Word
Well, if It Isn’t Billy Moon
Home, I Should Think

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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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