Musical Score By: Carter Burwell

Distributed by: Laksehore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Based on the novel by Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck weaves together two stories set fifty years apart, yet with similar circumstances.  In 1927, a young deaf girl named Rose (Millicent Simmonds) runs away from her father’s New Jersey home to find her mother, actress Lilian Mayhew (Julianne Moore).  Meanwhile, in 1977, recently orphaned Ben (Oakes Fegley) runs away from his home in Minnesota to find his father.  Both children set out on journeys to find the one person they are missing in their lives and their adventures unfold with surprising symmetry.

                The musical score of Wonderstruck was created by Carter Burwell, an American composer and performer who has created music for over eighty films.  Having performed in New York with several bands, Burwell wrote Christopher Cross’ 1981 hit, Sailing.  Nominated numerous times for his score for Carol, Burwell has also created musical score for such notable projects as Anomalisa, Raising Arizona, Gods and Monsters, Velvet Goldmine, Being John Malkovich, A Knight's Tale, The Rookie, No Country for Old Men, The Blind Side, The Kids Are All Right, True Grit, The Finest Hours and more.

                The Wonderstruck Soundtrack features orchestral music with piano and acoustic guitar.  Parts of the film featuring Rose tended toward very little dialogue, so a great deal of music and sound effects, such as the triangle, xylophone, bells, wooden blocks, etc., were used.  According to Carter Burwell, “The script specifies that Rose’s segment of the film would be silent because her character is deaf, so music was going to play a large role.  Because of the lack of dialogue and the lack of sound effects in Rose’s section, we presented it as a silent film, with wall-to-wall music.  I don’t believe there’s ever a moment where we actually go completely silent. That was a new challenge for me.”

                Throughout the film, there are special themes for each character.  Rose tends toward more piano and acoustic guitar, while Ben is more modern.  According to the composer, “Rose right from the beginning has her musical theme and Ben has his.  Initially, we didn’t try to make those instruments specific to the period of time in which they’re living. They live 50 years apart, one in 1927 one in 1977. But in the end it settled into something like that where Ben’s world was more driven by guitars and synthesizers, and Rose’s world was more driven by acoustical instruments.” 

                Some favorite tracks include the silent movie dramatic flare of Daughter of the Storm, the tragic tones of Ben Robbed and the various tracks in the museum, such as The Museum Beckons, Wolves, Dioramas and Museum Pursuits.  The Wonderstruck Soundtrack was a fun, quirky listen.  Carter Burwell’s music made me want to know just what was going on in the scene each track was created for.  I definitely want to see this movie after hearing this soundtrack.  A job well done!


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