Children of Men (soundtrack) by John Tavener

 

 

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Children of Men (Fragments of a Prayer)
by John Tavener


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Children of Men (Soundtrack) by John Tavener

Children of Men
Fragments of a Prayer
Composed by John Tavener
Varèse Sarabande Records

Rating: 7/10

Buy Children of Men by John Tavener  from Amazon.com

 

Listen to this soundclip of Children of MenFragments of a Prayer (417 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Children of MenThe Lamb (283 kb)


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“John Tavener's Fragments of a Prayer as well as his other pieces included on this CD are all frightfully beautiful.  Upon first listen they may come off as just another thin, minimalist piece, but upon successive listens they become nothing short of captivating.”

Out of the Greyness, A Ray of Hope
Review by Christopher Coleman


CHILDREN OF MEN was one of 2006 most intriguing films. Alfonso Cuaron's dystopian film set around the year 2027, is a gritty and brutal tale about the state of the world after nearly two decades with no children being born. [This grittiness is truly realized in the recent HD-DVD release of the film]. So what would the world be like in such a scenario? Well, according to Cuaron, not too good. With the loss of children in the world, there is a loss of hope and eventually an almost complete breakdown of western society.  CHILDREN OF MEN follows the journey of a man who is contracted to help escort, what turns out to be, the first pregnant woman in 20 years, to a group that will provide sanctuary for her and her child. The movie is full of countless religious symbols and references to contemporary images taken from the most recent of news headlines. This rough-roadie is presented in a live-on-the-frontlines-reporter-style (cinéma vérité), which makes the film as viscerally engaging as they come. Cuaron's choice here is clearly an effective one, but since we don't find much music accompanying, say, CNN's Anderson Cooper reporting from Sarajevo or Christiane Amanpour reporting from Iraq, it might be expected that there wouldn't be any score at all in a film like this. That is pretty close to the truth.

According to the liner notes, as Cuaron and Tim Sexton wrote the screenplay, they had the works of John Tavener playing for inspiration. In the end, it became only natural to contact Tavener in regards to their new film's score. Never having composed music for film before, JOHN TAVENER did agree to write a 15 minute piece from which the director could make selections. So, you ask, if there is only fifteen minutes of score used in the entire 109 minute film?  No matter the actual amount, it certainly feels like much less than 15 minutes-worth.  In saying that, I'm excluding all of the source music used throughout the film.  These make their way onto a completely separate soundtrack release.

The moments where the Tavener's score really asserts itself are few; however when your ears might take the most notice it will likely be the hypnotic, mezzo-sopranic voice of Sarah Connelly.  Her voice rises out of the greyness of any given scene, casting the slightest ray of hope, before being swallowed again by the fog the film's chaotic journey.   Another moment when the music makes a clear move to the forefront comes towards the conclusion of the film.  While our futuristic "Mary and Joseph" are lead through the streets in their ongoing-escape attempt; instead of patented-chase-music, Kryzysztof Penderecki's "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" (5) wrenches its way onto the film's soundtrack.  It appears for just a few seconds and then seems to dive just below the surface, beneath all of the incredible sound editing.  The piece simply becomes a part of audio-tapestry of the next 5 to 10 minutes of film.  Appearing as track 5, the dissonance in Penderecki's piece is nothing short of gut and ear-wrenching, which was his original intent and why he eventually dedicated his completed piece to the victims of Hiroshima atomic bomb. It is as disconcerting as it is complex and almost impossible to listen to in its entirety.

CHILDREN OF MEN leaves plenty of room for discussion but appears to provide a some hope for mankind as mother and child appear to reach their destination.  Tavener's "Fragments of a Prayer," subtly return to underscore the final few minutes of the film.  Similarly, this soundtrack returns to a more hopeful tone with Tavener's "Song of the Angel" (6) where the senses are somewhat soothed by the lead violin of Ulf Hoelscher and soprano vocals of Susan Narucki.  The following three tracks continue the motif of guarded hope ending the listening experience in the manner of a sobering benediction.

In the end, CHILDREN OF MEN is a difficult soundtrack to rate.  This is the type of film where I have to wonder if any score was necessary at all.  There is a strange feeling, an uneasiness, that runs from start to finish in this movie, which in other cases would be credited, at least in part, to a film's score.  In this case; however, that ambient or subliminal emotion seems to be generated by the specific combination of the writing, acting, and visual style. If you see the film and afterwards listen to the soundtrack, you will no doubt experience some of that "uneasiness" once again. That being said, John Tavener's Fragments of a Prayer as well as his other pieces included on this CD are all frightfully beautiful.  Upon first listen they may come off as just another thin, minimalist piece, but upon successive listens they become nothing short of captivating.  
 

Rating: 7/10

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Fragments of a Prayer 15:21  ****
2 Eternity's Sunrise 10:53  ****
3 Alexander's Feast/ War, He Sun, Is Toil and Trouble (G. F. Handel) 4:44  **
4 Kindertotenlieder/Nun Will Die Sonn' So Hell Aufgeh'n (Mahler) 5:31  ***
5 Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (Kryzysztof Penderecki) 9:59  **
6 Song of the Angel 4:35  ***
7 The Lamb 3:20  ***
8 Mother and Child 12:38  ****
9 Mother of God, Here I Stand 3:28  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 70 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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