Unless you live in China, you’ve probably never heard or seen THE LEGEND OF SILKBOY. Set amid China’s first attendance at the World Expo in 1851 London, this 3D animated film tells the story of an ambitious little boy who becomes a hero by fighting against the evil Filthington IV, who wants to obtain all the riches of the world, especially the rarest silk on earth made by the beautiful Goddess of Silk. Without having seen the film, I can’t say much more about it. What I can say is that Alain Mayrand has composed one of the most delightful scores of the year.
It’s rare to find superhero scores these days that aren’t filled with psychological underpinnings. Animated films seem to be the only genre where composers are allowed to flex their melodic muscles, creating full-bodied, hummable themes. The strength of the SILKBOY score lies in Mayrand’s use of those thematic muscles. The main theme charges out in classic superhero fashion, with a melody that lifts and soars, modulating and giving flight to musical imagination.
The sneaky “The Filthington Family March” has the bouncy villainy of something by Dukas or John Williams’ classic bumbling villain themes. The London atmosphere is conveyed through the vedy proper British “The Queen’s Presentation.” And though the story features Asian characters, the ethnic flavor in the music is subtle, found only in a few cues such as “Tammy’s Bad Day.”
As with any superhero story, the score features its share of action cues. In tracks like “The Fantastic Highway Chase” and “The Flying Bus,” Mayrand’s compositional skill comes through in full force. He deconstructs his themes, pulling rhythmic and melodic motifs from wherever he can to serve the needs of the cues, creating thrilling musical set-pieces.
Some fans may balk at the use of Mickey Mousing, but who cares? It’s entirely appropriate for the genre. Besides, those same scoring traditions that served Carl Stalling, Scott Bradley and the early Disney scorers so well still work just as effectively and Mayrand capitalizes on them with energy and humor. I’m not crazy about the semi-pop leanings of the song “One Boy’s Dream,” but that’s a minor quibble. SILKBOY is a rich, thematic score that still feels fresh and contemporary.
With Jackie Chan leading the vocal work, I expect it’s only a matter of time before the film opens here in the U.S. and elsewhere. Until then, God bless MovieScore Media for taking a chance on a relative newcomer and bringing this superb score to our attention. THE LEGEND OF SILKBOY is one musical tale that deserves to be spun over and over again.