Musical Score By: Alexandre Desplat
Distributed by: Back Lot Music
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Inspired by true events in 20th Century Britain, Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan as Maud, a working wife and mother secretly recruited to join the U.K.’s growing suffragette movement. Becoming an advocate amongst women from all walks of life like outlaw fugitive Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), Maud and her fellow suffragettes find themselves forced underground by an increasingly aggressive police force. But these women are willing to lose everything in an effort to fight for equality.
The musical score of Suffragette was created by Oscar-winning composer Alexandre Desplat, one of the most sought-after composers in the world. Growing up listening to symphonies, world music and jazz, Desplat studied piano and trumpet before making the flute his instrument of choice. In addition to his classical studies, Desplat added Brazilian and African music. He would make a name for himself with his musical score for The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Since then, Alexandre Desplat has created musical scores for a number of films, including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The King's Speech, Argo, The Imitation Game, The Danish Girl and more.
According to the film’s director, Sarah Gavron, she’d “…I’d wanted to work with Alexandre Desplat for many years. I think he’s got the ability to do something that always feels new, interesting, fresh, and not sentimental. He really responded to the story of the Suffragettes.” Desplat’s score features a main theme found in the first track that contains a sultry, almost southern feel. This theme makes its way into most of the tracks on this album in slight variations. Much of the soundtrack is dark pianos and strings with percussion that is reminiscent of a heartbeat. That heartbeat expresses drama, tension and danger, especially in the track Votes for Women. The score is a reminder of how dangerous and undertaking fighting for women’s rights was at the time. Epsom Derby is the most upbeat track on the album, expressing a victory of sorts.
The problems I have with the Suffragette Soundtrack lie in the lack of subject placement on the part of Desplat. The music was not expressive of any specific era or place – this could have been a score about any given struggle in history. Things get especially strange when electronic sound is used in Epsom Derby – totally out of place for the time period. This is not to say that the score doesn’t make for an interesting listen, just that I was surprised that Alexandre Desplat didn’t take time and place into consideration when creating it. Not one of my favorite works by Desplat, but not a total failure either.