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The Giver by Marco Beltrami (Review)

posted Sep 16, 2014, 9:12 AM by Koray Savas

The Giver is a film adaptation that I have personally been waiting for, for about 10 years. It has been long gestating in pre-production hell, with Jeff Bridges trying to get it off the ground for 20 years. The novel is a classic about a dystopian community in the future that is trying to erase all emotion and feeling to create order. It centers around a 12-year old boy who slowly uncovers everything about the world before. The source material is a great well of opportunity for a film, but in our current teenage angst driven market, Hollywood decided to dump a lot of the things that made The Giver great in favor of young adult romance and action ala Twilight and The Hunger Games. So I naturally expected the music to be some watered down Steve Jablonsky or run-of-the-mill contemporary action score. However, what Marco Beltrami delivered here is nothing short of ethereal.

The music is simple yet delicate, and taps into the film's atmosphere flawlessly. Beltrami utilizes strings and choir to a magical and profound effect, creating a tapestry of warmth and yearning to juxtapose the film's cold, clinical environment. The main theme is weaved throughout the musical narrative really well, and as the score progresses and builds, Beltrami gives it some grand statements during the climax. The entire album is a very pleasant listening experience, but things do not pick up in terms of forward action until "What Is Love?" a third of the way through. From here, Beltrami amps up the drama by introducing percussion and ostinati to fuel the story's building momentum. "Accelerated Training" to "The Mountain And Despair" is where all of the orchestral elements come together and things get loud. This action material is good but not necessarily exemplary. The theme is what grounds it and makes it unique, and the denouement in "Rosebud" is where it gets its big moment to shine. The "End Credits" cements that feeling of hope and escape with full-on choir.

Marco Beltrami succeeds as a storyteller where the filmmakers do not. The Giver is one of his best works to date, and is even all the more impressive considering the 5 other films he has scored this year. His mono-thematic approach simplifies the dramatic qualities of the characters and allows the music to nail the tone and mood of the narrative. The music seeps beauty and love, and is able to identify with the novel's overarching themes in addition to servicing the picture.