Movie Soundtrack


Composed by: Dario Marianelli

Featuring: Jean Yves-Thibaudet

Distributed by: Decca Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Adapted from the novel by Ian McEwan, Atonement is a story of love and betrayal that spans several decades.  It begins when Briony, a 13-year-old aspiring writer from an upper-class English family, discovers that her older sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightly), has earned the adoring eye of their servantís educated son, Robbie (James McEvoy).  Unfortunately for Robbie, Briony had set her eyes on him and becomes jealous enough to conspire to keep them apart, accusing Robbie of a crime he hasnít committed.  Robbie is forced to go to prison where he is released early so that he may enlist in the military during World War II.  In spite of his horrible fate, Robbie promises Cecilia that they will be reunited eventually, but events conspire to keep that event far off in the future. 

            Composing the music for this tale of unrequited love is Dario Marianelli, an Italian composer nominated for an Academy Award for his composition of the musical score for the love story Pride and Prejudice.  French pianist Jean Yves-Thibaudet was called upon to perform the numerous piano solos featured in the Atonement Soundtrack.  Yves-Thibaudet was also featured on the soundtracks of Pride and Prejudice, Bride of the Wind and The Portrait of a Lady and has recently released his own album, Aria: An Opera Without Words.

            Being a love story, the Atonement Soundtrack could have fallen by the way side, becoming one of those movies filled with melodramatic piano solos and dramatic orchestral pieces.  However, Dario Marianelli does something new and innovative with his score that will definitely capture music loversí attention.  Since the film revolves around the writing of Briony Tallis, Marianelli has decided to incorporate the sound of a typewriter throughout the soundtrack.  When I first heard the typewriter keys clicking and clacking along in the opening track entitled Briony, I believed that the sound was to be background noise for the musical score.  But as the typing appeared in various other tracks, most notably in With My Own Eyes, I began to see that the typing set the tone for the beat of the music.  The typewriter was being used as an instrument!  I had never heard this before and, as a music lover who enjoys music that incorporates the use of rare or exotic instruments in their composition, I found that I loved the inventiveness of Marianelli.

            Of course, some of the Atonement Soundtrack does feature some of the piano and violin solos found in the melodramatic compositions that usually accompany a sweeping love story.  However, these pieces are separated by or sometimes infused with sinister music which defines the moments of betrayal that take place throughout the film.  Although a part of the melodramatic moments, one cannot deny the beauty of the pieces written for the piano and violin that feature heavily throughout the soundtrack. 

            No one who listens to the soundtrack can deny that the composition tells the tale of the film explicitly.  The addition of a choir that begins as background in the Elegy for Dunkirk and slowly rises to a crescendo toward the middle of the track gives the listener the idea that something very detrimental to the story is about to occur.  The frantic typing found in different tracks denotes the anger and betrayal felt by certain characters in the movie.  The beautiful piano solos define the unrequited love.

            Bravo to Dario Marianelli for composing a soundtrack that is as unique as it is beautiful!  The Atonement Soundtrack will make an excellent addition to any music aficionadoís collection.


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