In this weeks installment of Scenic Sounds, the bi-weekly column at the crossroads of music and film, Megan Acheampong studies the Score from the film Never Let Me Go in a way you never thought was possible.
Based off Kazuo Ishiguro’s dystopian novel, Never Let Me Go is a whirlwind of love, truth, and tragedy– the common ingredients for a successful drama. It doesn’t take much difficulty to pay attention to a film directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) and starring Keira Knightley (Atonement), Carey Mulligan (An Education), and Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as the fallible clones; one couldn’t say jackpot any better. Along with these popular talents is Rachel Portman’s skill, demonstrated in the form of a magnificent score; she captures the essence of Never Let Me Go superbly.
The score dissects the characters’ lives as they develop so that one obtains precious glimpses into their souls. The musical composition hits every emotion from the lighthearted excitement of a child to a man’s bitter defeat. Rachel Portman’s work connects the viewer with the film in ways good lighting and a solid line cannot; it reaches out and grabs the viewer, for all one can do is relate to the scenes in which a rush of harmonies flood the senses.
In particular three pieces from Never Let Me Go elegantly connect the viewer with what the clones must endure. Following the plot’s circular development, “Main Titles” serves as a harbinger of what will ultimately occur in the film. As Kathy H commences the heartfelt story the music is quiet and mature, portending of what is to come in the plot. The score continues in an unpredictable manner in “Bumper Crops.” This active piece captures the lust for freedom as the springing rhythms portray the innocence and curiosity the children have at Hailsham. It expresses the order that comes with beginning, the newness and excitement, which spring forth and gather the ebullient elements of the film. However, as “Bumper Crops” comes to an end Portman targets such lightheartedness and casts a wave of pensiveness with slowing rhythms and ultimately a near silence with only the reverberating harp guiding the melody.
As the score pushes forward, the rhythms loosen, the sounds deepen, and lighthearted tunes become a rarity. The piece that will shatter doubts in this musical composition with the sound of a single cello is “We All Complete,” for it captures the clones’ desperation in the most sorrowful manner. The slowed rhythms and deep tones allow time to reflect on every image presented in the film. Although not a holistically cheerful and uplifting score, it nevertheless succeeds in portraying the other side of life, the unheard stories which don’t end in a fairy tale like manner but in pure honesty. It is difficult to tell what exactly makes the score for Never Let Me Go so eccentric but to think it is a typical score to go along with another sappy and romantic film is an utter mistake.