The Founder

Composed By:  Carter Burwell

Songs By: Various Artists

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the film. The Founder, Michael Keaton is Ray Kroc, a salesman from Illinois who meets Mac (John Carroll) and Dick McDonald (Nick Offerman) who are running a burger joint in Southern California in the 1950s.  Impressed by the superfast system of making the food and seeing franchise potential, Kroc finds a way to pull the company away from the brothers and create a billion-dollar empire.

                The musical score of The Founder was created by Carter Burwell, an American composer who began studying animation and film before venturing into music.  Studying electronic music and performing in bands in New York City, he eventually began composing music for film, dance and theatre.  Burwell has created musical scores for over eighty films, including Raising Arizona, Gods and Monsters, The Hudsucker Proxy, Being John Malkovich, O Brother Where Art Thou?, A Knight's Tale, Burn After Reading, In Bruges, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man, Where the Wild Things Are, The Kids Are All Right, The Blind Side, Anomalisa, Carol and more.

                According to Carter Burwell, “We agreed early on that it would be interesting to play Kroc’s view of McDonald's as if it were a patriotic or military campaign.  But the director, John Lee Hancock, also wanted a less ironic view of Kroc, especially at the beginning of the story, so that we could relate to his character.  This we got through more intimate, traditional sounds of piano and guitar… Among the musical threads are his Midwestern background, played with guitar, mandolin, strings and woodwinds; the inner voice of this over-driven off-kilter middle-American, played with piano; and his patriotic fervor in spreading the gospel of fast food from sea to shining sea, played with drum corps and brass band.”

                The main theme of The Founder features that middle-American sound with acoustic guitar, piano and percussion.  For the most part, there is an upbeat style to the score and a sense of determination in its sound.  The only tracks that seem to vary from that are Ray Confronted, which features music in a lower registry, a rumbling bass drum roll and crashing cymbals – something dramatic and possibly angry is taking place here – and the final track, Number One, which seems a mix of happy and sad.

                The Founder Soundtrack also features songs of the time period performed by various artists, including Doris Day, The Dixieaires, The Ramblers and more.  I enjoyed listening to the songs.  I’m a fan of 50s music, but had never heard of these tracks (except Pennies from Heaven) and enjoyed the introduction to these songs.

                The score created by Carter Burwell for The Founder seems to capture the time and place of the events in the film, as well as the thinking process of Ray Kroc.  Mixed in with the songs of the era, this makes for a well-rounded movie soundtrack.   


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