Review Summary: Never before have I listened to a score after a film and been so moved that I immediately began to change my opinion of various scenes and moments post-viewing.
Though the sights, sounds, and directorial decisions surrounding Elysium may be at the core of the many discussions about the film, Ryan Amon's score proves to be one of the strongest highlights of the movie. Organic, and yet distinctly industrialized (though not necessarily in the genre sense of the word) it's an amazing companion to a film that often likes to overshadow the music with action sequences. While not readily apparent throughout the film, the few times Amon's score does end up being more prominent makes a clear difference in the impact of the scene; Elysium
may be Amon's first score, but I sincerely hope it's not the last.
With a love of traditional orchestra mixed with various sounds from cultures around the globe, Elysium
is far more than the average score. Though the first trailers use of the now somewhat iconic/loathed horn blast may seem a bit off putting and lead many to dismiss the soundtrack as just another generic scifi romp, this would be a severe oversight. Amon is extremely aware of the world director Niel Blomkamp has created, and fits the music accordingly. The sounds used evoke both a familiar and tribal feeling, one that becomes multicultural as well as somewhat alien as the film and score progress. Tracks like “Unathorized Entry” and “You Said You'd Do Anything” are both haunting and driving, the later featuring shamanic chanting and pounding drums accompanying its respective scene, creating an atmosphere of tension and even a feeling of ascension in the process.
Sounds from the Elysium's world are hinted at in the score as well, and in some cases what I had thought was the sound of a particular weapon in the film was really just a part from the score used masterfully to highlight the action. “A Political Sickness” is a prime example, with sounds from the attack shuttles engines stabbing away in the background as a mechanical whine is overlayed to accommodate the severity of the scenes violence. Traditional orchestral moments weave in and out, alluding to the battle between the villain and protagonist happening on screen and making the moment far more memorable in the process.
Ideally a score should highlight the film, and elicit feelings and memories the listener has associate with the movie. Amon's Elysium
goes above and beyond this standard, pushing the film up on the shoulders of its strong movements and masterful arrangement. Never before have I listened to a score after a film and been so moved that I immediately began to change my opinion of various scenes and moments post-viewing. Blomkamp's choice to use a first time composer proved to be an amazing decision, Amon's professed love of travel and world culture shines through the score and melts into the films world, enhancing it. Elysium
tops my list of best soundtrack this year, and I consider it a must listen to anyone who saw and had mixed feelings about the film.