Composed by: Jóhann Jóhannsson

Distributed by: WaterTower Music

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the dramatic thriller, Prisoners, Hugh Jackman is Keller Dover, a religious man who finds everything he has ever believed in tested when his daughter and that of a family friend goes missing on Thanksgiving Day.  Especially after the main suspect, someone proven to have been in the area at the time of the girls’ disappearance is released due to lack of evidence Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Detective Loki, the lead detective assigned to the case who finds himself about to mar his perfect record with a case that becomes increasingly difficult to solve.

                The musical score of Prisoners was created by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson.  With a history in the Icelandic alternative scene, Jóhann Jóhannsson, he has been known to combine classical and modern musical influences in his works.  Beginning his film composing career in the year 2000, Jóhannsson has won a number of awards for his works.  Recent film compositions include The Good Life, For Ellen, McCanick and more.

                When I first saw the promos for this movie, I was immediately interested (for more about the film, visit  Days before the film’s opening, I was offered the opportunity to check out the movie’s dramatic score.  I couldn’t wait to take a listen.

                The music of Prisoners is mainly strings and hauntingly sad, reflecting the haunted nature of the main characters.  The score has a dark and ominous undertone reflecting the danger and evil taking place just under the surface.  And yet, despite the haunting sadness and ominous undertones, the music is actually quite beautiful.  True to his history, Jóhannsson blends traditional and unconventional styles and instruments to create this unique soundtrack, using large string and woodwind sections and blending them with little known instruments like The Cristal Baschet, a resonating instrument much like the glass harmonica, and the electronic instrument known as the Ondes Martenot.

                Watching the film, one might not really notice the various nuances of the Prisoners score.  The visuals and intensity of the emotions taking place in the film may be perfectly reflected in the score, but the score is somewhat muted and not very noticeable.  But hearing the score separately from the film – during the credits and again when I was sent the soundtrack – I have to say that Jóhann Jóhannsson created the perfect score for this film that makes an even better stand alone album.  The Prisoners Soundtrack is a definite must listen for all fans of film scores.


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