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Soundtrack review: Mary Shelley (Amelia Warner – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Mary Shelley (Amelia Warner – 2018)



“Mary Shelley” is a movie that follows the stormy relationship between Shelley and renown romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary and Percy declare their love for each other and much to her family’s horror they run away together, joined by Mary’s half-sister Claire. In the midst of growing tension within their relationship, during their stay at Lord Byron’s house at Lake Geneva, the idea of Frankenstein is conceived when a challenge is put to all houseguests to write a ghost story. A monstrous character is created, which will permanently stake its claim on popular culture worldwide, but society at the time puts little value in women authors. At the young age of 18, Mary is forced to challenge these biases, to protect her work and to develop her own identity. Amelia Warner wrote the score.

I am instantly charmed by the warm and fairy tale like sound of this score. The first few cues are melodic and comfortable, with an angelic female voice vocalizing and a superb period piano theme in “My sanctuary”. The composer manages to evoke the innocence and joy of the beginning of Mary’s story; I can sense the teenage sensitivity of a girl in these first few cues. So far the score evokes the main character the the period in which the story takes place and does so brilliantly. There is nothing like elegant, orchestral joy to just warm me up inside and make me think of nothing but love. Amelia Warner’s way of writing music makes me think of a combination of Debie Wiseman and Rachel Portman in terms of sensitivity and I just love her music. I love how the orchestra gets riled up in the magnificent “Mary’s decision” and once again I applaud the elegance of British film music composers. The ghostly tone of this score inviting and alluring for me because of this elegance.

The use of the voice is what makes this score sound and feel even better; I just lose myself in this ethereal atmosphere where it seems time stand still and there is an aura of mystery I can’t walk away from. The composer also uses sounds of breath and heartbeat which makes me feel as if I am part of the story, experiencing it like Mary, through Mary. The main love them when she meets Percy doesn’t stray much from the overall mood of the score; Amelia Warner just subtly makes the piano sound more joyful and melancholic in the same time.

Then there’s a cue like “The book” that just forgets all about the quiet velvety texture and explode in a stormy symphonic joy that is simply sublime. Orchestral film music can still evoke and bring feelings to me no other genre can. “Mary Shelley” is a beautiful, warm orchestral score that makes a ghostly, mysterious atmosphere seem as welcoming as a sanctuary. It’s the kind of composition that works very well on its own as well because it’s simply beautiful music.

For me, “Mary Shelley” is one of the best surprises of 2018 so far; Amelia Warner makes an entrance with a bang and I will surely follow her works from now on.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

My Sanctuary
Rights of Woman
Mary’s Decision
We Shall Become the Same
An Unreal Mystery
Mary Meets Percy
The Book
None of This Will Matter
Lost in Darkness and Distance

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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