Animation is truly a wonderful medium of storytelling. It also seems to be where composers get to really flesh out amazing scores. There’s a reason why composers like John Powell aim for animated films. Bilal is a great example of a composer really getting to spread their thematic wings, and that’s exactly what Atli Örvarsson does.
Think of Bilal as Islam’s Prince Of Egypt. It’s a faith-based animated film that tells the story of a young boy who follows his faith in the prophet Mohammed and follows the teachings of Islam to bring justice in a world full of greed and injustice. Atli Örvarsson approached the score very much like a grand epic, the score’s thematic strengths pull the listener deep into the story. The beauty of the score of course comes with how connected to the characters it is. The music transports us and reminds in a good way of how Jerry Goldsmith approached The Mummy. There is adventurous spirit laced with a romantic beauty. This isn’t necessarily an action-packed score, but there are some great action moments that don’t shy away from gravitas. Atli’s signature touches can be felt throughout the score as well making the sound uniquely his. By the end you felt like you were indeed on a grand and spiritual journey without the music ever becoming overbearing. The short score feels like it could have used some more filling to beef up the emotional resonance, but given the film it could have easily been overkill.
Bilal finds a great balance between beauty, gravitas and nuance to craft a character-focused adventure score with cultural touches. The music is wonderful in its thematic structure and narrative flow, and we get to hear Atli really develop some emotionally driven melodies throughout. Bilal is a film that has an uphill battle for any kind of attention, especially from non-Muslims, but there is quality storytelling here that doesn’t bash you over the head with its religious message, and Atli’s score is a fantastic journey.
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