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Soundtrack review: Christopher Robin (Jon Brion & Geoff Zanelli – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Christopher Robin (Jon Brion & Geoff Zanelli – 2018)

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“Christopher Robin” is a 2018 American fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Marc Forster and written by Alex Ross Perry and Allison Schroeder, from a story by Perry. The film is inspired by A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard’s book Winnie-the-Pooh. and is a live-action/CGI extension of the Disney franchise of the same name. The film stars Ewan McGregor as the titular character alongside Hayley Atwell, as well as the voices of Jim Cummings and Brad Garrett. The plot follows Christopher Robin as he has grown up and lost his sense of imagination, only to be reunited with his old stuffed bear friend, Winnie-the-Pooh. Jon Brion and Geoff Zanelli wrote the score.

Just last year there was another movie about this particular character, “Goodbye Christopher Robin” with a delightful score by Carter Burwell. Winnie and his friends were not a huge part of my childhood as I was more drawn to other Disney characters but my little girl loves Winnie, the piglet and the tiger. As I listen to this score I get the same feelings I got when I heard Burwell’s composition; just as he did, Jon Brion and Geoff Zanelli go for that beautiful, peaceful orchestral sound that’s not quite fairy tale and magical because there are also real life elements in this story. The music is elegant and pleasant, comfortable to listen to. This is one of those scores that simply stops the outside world and creates a warm cocoon where everything feels alright and everything flows peacefully. Elegant is the word that comes to mind most often as I listen to this score.

There are barely any comedic or cartoonish elements and there’s a certain grown up melancholy about the sound, a melancholy and tone I understand and can related to. There is a shade of sadness in the score as grown up problems sometimes drown playfulness and imagination and I completely agree with the composers’ creative choices. As the story evolves, so does the music and the flute becomes more prominent next to the piano when the fantasy world comes into play. I like the use of chimes and bells on this score to compliment the piano and allude at that fantasy world escape.

“Did you let me go” is my favourite cue from this score; it’s a stunningly beautiful and heartbreaking piece that manages to capture the nostalgia, the realisation that you might have forgotten what meant a lot to you as a child, the certitude of a one way trip away from the happiest time on your life. The cue is tender, gentle, careful and empathic with a cello motif at its core to balance the innocence of the piano.

“Christopher Robin” is exactly the kind of sensible and adventurous score that this movie, this story needed. Jon Brion and Geoff Zanelli wrote a warm and pleasant score that charms from beginning to end. There is even a nod from Geoff to his many contributions to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, in “A father of very little brain”, a concept I am familiar with every now and then in relation to my little girl, and a couple of Richard Sherman songs from the old Winnie cartoons.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Highlights:
I Would Have Liked It to Go on For a While Longer
Evelyn Goes It Alone
Did You Let Me Go?
Madeline’s Red Balloon
Expotition to London
A Father of Very Little Brain
I Do Nothing Every Day

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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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