Soundtrack Review: THE BOOK OF ELI

Allison Loring

by: Allison Loring
January 18th, 2010

Rating: 6/10

What would a post-apocalyptic world look like? What would be like to live within these new surroundings? But more importantly, what would this world sound like? Atticus Ross (NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU, TOUCHING EVIL) took on this challenge and created a score that combines classic orchestration with innovative electronic elements. Much like Denzel Washington’s character, Eli, carries a classic piece of literature through a newly changed landscape, Ross puts a new spin on the idea of film score and infuses his style with an 80-piece orchestra.

Ross may be better known for his work on the albums of major recording artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Jane’s Addiction, and Korn. His score for THE BOOK OF ELI is his first foray into composing an entire feature film, but you would not know it. Ross keeps listeners (and the audience) on their toes, making his score as much of a character in the film as any of the actors. If you think film scores are boring, take a listen to this.

The first song on the album, which also begins the film, “Panoramic," is practically the unofficial theme of the movie as it’s unmistakable vibrating tones come up throughout the journey, acting almost as a reminder to the audience of where we began. Gritty and challenging, “Panoramic” is also beautiful and attention-grabbing. This track was by far my favorite piece on the album and stands as well on its own as it does in the context of the film.

“The Journey” is a wonderful example of Ross’ ability to combine classic score elements of strings and horns with less conventional percussion and electronic undertones. I loved how this idea of old and new struggling to come together was depicted not only on screen, but also in the score.

“Human” is the one track that features hardly any electronic elements and is almost exclusively a piano interlude among what could be considered chaos. Interesting that this purely organic piece is titled “Human." As one of the few people left who knew what the world was like “before," Solara (Mila Kunis) asks Eli how the two worlds were different. Eli sums it up by explaining that before, people had more than they needed and did not understand what was truly valuable. Now people would kill each other for things they would have once thrown away without a second thought, presenting the idea that perhaps humans really are as simple as a few chords on a piano.

The off-putting score mirrored the fractured scenery on screen in a new world where no one is safe and anyone could be or become an enemy. However, a funny thing seemed to happen to me when I was watching this film. I found myself actually finding comfort in the music as it played through each scene, taking us through different points in the journey. With nothing of comfort to hold on to and so many unanswered questions spread in front of us, the simple fact that music was a constant caused it to become comforting, even if the elements being played were not sounds that would typically be reassuring.

As a fan of electronic music and film scores, the combination of these two elements gave me 17 new tracks I was eager to add to my library. Although the songs Eli listens to on his iPod are not featured on this soundtrack, the mere fact that an iPod holds value to him in a world where every day is a battle, proves that music is a powerful and necessary part of this or any future world.

This soundtrack is available through Warner Brothers and Reprise Records.

1. "Panoramic" - Atticus Ross
2. "Outland" - Atticus Ross
3. "The Journey" - Atticus Ross
4. "Amen" - Atticus Ross
5. "The Convoy"  - Atticus Ross
6. "Solara Violated" - Atticus Ross
7. "Safe" - Atticus Ross
8. "Human" - Atticus Ross
9. "Meant to Be Shared" - Atticus Ross
10. "The Passenger" - Atticus Ross
11. "Den of Vice" - Atticus Ross
12. "Gattling" - Atticus Ross
13. "Blind Faith" - Atticus Ross
14. "Convoy Destruct" - Atticus Ross
15. "Movement" - Atticus Ross
16. "Carnegie's Demise" - Atticus Ross
17. "The Purpose" - Atticus Ross

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