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Creation by Christopher Young


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Creation (Soundtrack) by Christopher Young

Composed by Christopher Young
Lakeshore Records (2010)

Rating: 8/10

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“CREATION is quite the subtle, even minimal, score, but teeming within the notes are the vibrancy of life and the dark mystery of death; the force of faith and the duty to science. ”

Tiny Variations
Review by Christopher Coleman

The Nineteenth Century scientist, Charles Darwin, is, to this day, a hero to many and villain to others. His famous book, "The Origin of the Species" and the theory it contains remains as hotly debated in the 21st century as it was Dr. Darwin's 19th century. The film's screenplay was written by John Collee and is based on "Annie's Box," a biography penned by Charles Darwin's great grandson, Randal Keynes; itself written from Darwin's own diaries and family letters. Director John Amiel takes Collee's script and with strong performances from Paul Bettany (Charles Darwin), real-life wife, Jennifer Connelly (Emma Darwin), and newcomer Martha West (Annie Darwin), crafts a film that shows a much different picture of Darwin than what might comprise the popular perception of the man. Instead of the diabolical, scientist out to destroy God, Darwin is portrayed as a brilliant man tormented by physical ailments, deep emotional wounds, and suffers the ongoing casualties of sitting at the crux of the great ideological battle of our time: science versus religion.

Veteran composer CHRISTOPHER YOUNG filled his 2009 with projects such as THE INFORMERS, THE UNINVITED, and one of his best horror scores in years, DRAG ME TO HELL, yet he transitions from 2009 to 2010 with one of his most beautiful works to date for CREATION. Often, when the name of "Christopher Young" comes up, his work in the horror genre quickly comes to mind and with good reason. With seminal efforts for noteworthy horror films such as: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2, THE GRUDGE, the HELLRAISER franchise, it would be easy to corner Young in this genre. Over the years; however, his often-time, smaller or more character driven films have made their way into my list of Christopher-Young-favorites. THE SHIPPING NEWS, THE GIFT, THE HURRICANE and UNFINISHED LIFE all demonstrate the considerable talents and range of the composer, but in more subtle ways. I'm quite happy to say that CHRISTOPHER YOUNG's work for CREATION now falls into this category.

CREATION is quite the subtle, even minimal, score, but teeming within the notes are the vibrancy of life and the dark mystery of death, the force of faith and the duty to science. As Amiel's film does, Young's score audibly paints the picture of a man who is ravaged by his past choices and the possible future his book, currently formulating in his mind, may usher in; one where Science has eliminated God. Still, Young treats Darwin as first, a man, a husband, and a father, whose work begins to lead his mind away from the faith that he and his wife once shared. Darwin is humanized by Young's instrumentation and empathetic melodies. Piano, woodwinds and strings dominate the score; playing with two main thematic ideas established in the first two tracks: "Creation" (1) and "Princess in the Sky" (2). Young takes these two ideas and, with tiny variations, carries them through the entirety of the score; the brilliance of his work being that the listener never tires of either by the soundtrack's end.  In fact, I found myself enthralled by them by the conclusion.

In "Creation" (1) we have the title theme set before us and, while it does reflect some of the wonder and mysteries of scientific discovery, with it's violin-lead, it immediately paints Darwin as a sympathetic, and very human, character. Later, Young turns this idea into the driving-force behind Darwin's work in tracks such as "Cunning Gunning" (4) and "Knowing Everything I Now Know" (13). The bulk of the middle of this score is based upon CHRISTOPHER YOUNG's second theme. He introduces this idea in "Princess in the Sky" (2) as a simple waltz played on piano and accompanied by strings.  He goes on in the score to make abbreviated quotes that feature small variations. In Unity in Form (3), we immediately hear the theme again. This time it is played on the oboe before moving back to piano, albeit with a slight inflection of uncertainty. In tracks like "Pleasure Perfect" (5) and "Struggle for Survival" (9) Young incorporates the first two or three notes of the motif with a dark sense of wonder. Still later, in yet another variant, we hear the "princess motif" played quickly and brightly on strings in "The Treatment at Malvern." (8). As the score closes, we are returned to Young's main theme, still featured on violin, but orchestrally wrapped to exude feelings of contentment, hope or even joy; first in "Knowing Everything I Now Know" (13) and then rapturously in "Humility and Love (14). It must be said that this final track features one of those special symphonic crescendos (1:16) that induces that rare breed of endangered goose-bump - all too scarce in film music these days. The price of the soundtrack is easily worth that moment alone.

At first glance, it might seem a strange choice to put CHRISTOPHER YOUNG at the helm of such a movie; but Amiel's film does incorporate a number of scenes some might consider horrific or, at least nightmarish. And at such times, Young does get to stretch those darker-legs and he unsurprisingly delivers in these moments.  The true force of CREATION, however, is the beautiful irony that both Amiel and Young are able to convey through their storytelling and music. CREATION is actually a cleverly told story of contradictions, the obvious and the not-so. While, 150 years later, the conflict between religion and science wages on, I find great profundity in the fact that CHRISTOPHER YOUNG has been able to craft a score so poignant, so... harmonious.


Rating: 8/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Creation 2:27  ****
2 Princess in the Sky 2:31  ***
3 Unity in Form 2:26  ***
4 Cunning Gunning 2:15  ****
5 Pleasure Perfect 4:44  ****
6 To Emma 4:51  ***
7 Partly Part 5:56  ***
8 The Treatment At Malvern 2:21  ****
9 Struggle for Survival 3:27  ***
10 The Giant Sloth of Punta Alta 1:46  ***
11 Fuegan Children 2:05  ****
12 You've Killed God Sir 2:47  ***
13 Knowing Everything I Now Know 5:15  ****
14 Humility and Love 6:22  *****
  Total Running Time (approx) 49 minutes  



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