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Soundtrack review: The Snowman (Marco Beltrami – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Snowman (Marco Beltrami – 2017)



The Snowman is an upcoming British-American crime thriller film directed by Tomas Alfredson and written by Hossein Amini and Peter Straughan, based on the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbø. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer and J. K. Simmons. When Harry Hole, an elite crime squad’s lead detective (Fassbender), investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer nicknamed “The Snowman” may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Ferguson), the detective must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall. When I saw the plot and the setting I instantly knew that this is the kind of movie Marco Beltrami scores.

A Beltrami score is like a box of chocolates; I usually know I’m going to find something good inside but rarely know what kind of filling. Here the main titles open up with a Western string motif a la Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and morphs into a beautiful violin and flute theme that makes me think of a drama rather than a horror film. The piano ending completes a gorgeous main title cue and I am hooked though right from the start. “Building the Snowman” has an elegant gothic sound that shows me Marco Beltrami found yet another tone to add to his amazingly varied musical colour palette. As the cues come one after the other so do the images in my mind as the composer zig zags through different styles, giving me Alexandre Desplat vibes in “Down the Harry Hole” with the neurotic almost dissonant piano and stabbing strings that say chase chase chase. There are suspenseful cues, beautiful and tender piano cues like “Snow stalking”, as if Beltrami turned this story into an allegory or a fantasy, as if he’s Quentin Tarantino or Brian Fuller turning bloody fight scenes into beautiful works of art. The piano in fact is Marco’s instrument of choice to paint his different scenes. “Studying source” is like a miniature piano concerto, lonely and carefully executed.

I am fascinated by this score; Beltrami is the kind of composer who can write an intricate musical story one day or a forgettable score the other and luckily he is in creator mode for “The snowman”. His elegant musings accompany the story and characters and weave a special, almost requiem like type of atmosphere that fits perfectly the idea of preying in the snow as no matter the horrors the white, quiet and virgin setting gives a unique elegance to the story. Elegance is in the music as well as Marci Beltrami doesn’t put sharp, abrasive or aggressive motifs in his cues. The tension is palpable in cues like “Dr. Red Herring” but still the music stays elegant and melodic. Every now and then the nervous piano stirs things up and gives me that dark comedy Coen brothers feeling.

“The snowman” is Marco Beltrami at his most feverishly inventive; it’s an intelligent and surprising score, dark and melodic, icy cold and beautiful and every cue in it is a musical gift. This composition captivated me from beginning to end and I can’t wait to see the movie as well.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 37 / 50

Album excellence: 74%

Main Titles
Building a Snowman
Down the Harry Hole
Rafto Investigates
Snow Stalking
Studying Source
Bumming a Ride
Rafto on the Case
Dr. Red Herring
Bridge to Chicken
Arriving in Bergen
Searching for Katrine
Lady Vengeance
Car Chase
In Search Of
Barn Find
The Hole Family
Carillon My Wayward Son

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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  1. GrgZrgks 19th November 2017

    A exceptional work worth owning. I’ve already listened to it multiple times.
    Is there any information regarding a vinyl edition?

    1. Mihnea Manduteanu 21st November 2017

      Not yet but I hope it comes.

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