CD Review: Creation

Creation requires dedication and passion. And that no doubt spurned Charles Darwin in his pursuit of the theory of evolution, dramatized in the new film CREATION. The film stars Paul Bettany as Darwin, who tries to balance his scientific theories with the religious beliefs of his wife (Jennifer Connelly). Yet for all the drama inherent in the story, there is something cold and sterile about Christopher Young‘s score.

The film did not receive good reviews from critics, yet Young’s score has been roundly praised in the film music community. The music is classically arranged, yet it refreshingly does not sound like a period pastiche score.

The score’s main theme dances along in a gentle, tentative waltz that yearns and reaches for something, yet never quite finds the solution. Throughout the score, piano and harp churn away with determination, like a scientist plugging away at one experiment after another. But all that energy ultimately goes nowhere.

In “Partly Part,” a violin solo takes over the main theme, no longer in three-quarter time. The theme cries out in frustration and pain, and finally, seven tracks into the score, I begin to feel something, albeit briefly.

Creation soundtrack
“Partly Part”
“Humility and Love”

Only in the final track, “Humility and Love,” is Young allowed to cut loose as the strings and the entire orchestra surge with a lovely new theme. Finally, here is the passion that is missing from the rest of the score.

I have no doubt that Young was as dedicated to and passionate about his music as Darwin was to his pursuits, and it is a solid effort from a compositional standpoint. But after the praise lavished on the score by my colleagues, I was looking forward to a truly beautiful listening experience. Instead the music left me cold and I ended up dissecting the music with a dispassionate reviewer’s eye.

Young has made his name scoring horror films and thrillers. No one composes for those genres quite like Young, and I enjoy quite a few of those scores. However, I’m not someone who can tell a Young score just by listening to it. I don’t hear that definable style that some other composers have, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But I’m still waiting on that one, great dramatic score that is lurking beneath the consummate craft of Young’s work. It’s there, I can feel it. But CREATION is not it.

Let’s hope everyone else’s critical praise for this particular score gives directors the impetus to hire Young  to compose for more dramatic films. If so, I’d be perfectly happy for my review for this score to be the lone dissenting voice.

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