|4.||Under A Spell||2:37|
|10.||Knights At Night||1:15|
|13.||My Dead Husband||1:32|
| ||42:58| Submit your review
Birth stars Nicole Kidman as a woman whose late husband is apparently reincarnated as a young boy and explores the agonising disbelief that it provokes. The film's critical acclaim has been luke warm, but scenes of Kidman in a bath with the boy (all done using compositing) have brought up controversy. However, one aspect that has received general praise, at least on its own terms, is Alexandre Desplat's enchanting and genuinely haunting score. Desplat's occasional forays into Hollywood scoring have been a great success, notably his recent effort for Girl With a Pearl Earring which was replete with gorgeous, but delicate thematic material that displayed the kind of lightness of touch that is all to rare these days. That Birth isn't quite such a consistent pleasure is more due to the subject matter than any compositional deficiency.
Prologue is an impressive start; the pulsing woodwind is inviting and hypnotic, providing a bed for the main theme led by the lower strings. Admittedly there is a hint of James Horner's Sneakers in the construction, but not enough to be a distraction. The main theme itself is slightly melancholy, but the higher pitched accompaniment makes for a lighter counterpoint than a more traditional underpinning of strings. Desplat wisely limits recurrences of the woodwind motif so every appearance has an impact worth waiting for. This is especially true in the instance of Letter which starts perkily, but soon withdraws as dissonant horn chords drag the initial mood into darker territory. It is a testament to Desplat that he does this succinctly and with much subtlety. The mixture of engaging and disturbing effectively sums up the score's entire mood within two minutes. When mood changes can often seem forced and contrived, Letter is a perfect example of how to achieve such a move seemingly without effort.
The score's second most prominent feature is a waltz introduced on the piano in The Engagement, but given a fuller outing during the middle of The Kiss and closes out the score in Birth Waltz. However, what is probably the most important, almost ubiquitous feature, yet surprisingly subtle idea, is a throbbing bass note so low that it is difficult to pitch. Even tracks that appear purely orchestral often feature it in the background as an unnerving counterpoint. Its insidious nature is especially clear when set against an otherwise gorgeous harp figure in Under a Spell. It's the kind of idea that is clearly an important component in Desplat's musical architecture and sound design, but some might find it a little frustrating when the material it underpins would otherwise be so easy on the ear.
Unlike his other high profile efforts, Birth isn't as consistently likeable and is a little more challenging for the listener. For all the sublime melodic material, several cues are quite tense and stronger on atmosphere than melody. However, Desplat is too good a composer to allow these tracks to wallow and the structures are tight enough to dispell any feeling of aimlessly. I must admit that during the first few listens I was inclined to find Birth a touch inferior to his previous works, but this is more to do with the unnerving soundscape that rages from time to time. However, the balance between light and dark, melody and atmosphere is masterful, moving from one to another with consummate skill. Another fine score, superbly performed by the LSO.
The music of this soundtrack was used in: Syriana
Other releases of Birth (2004):