The soundtrack for notoriously reclusive filmmaker Terrence Malick's fifth outing, the existential drama Tree of Life, features the work of Oscar-nominated French composer Alexandre Desplat, who lent his considerable talents to projects like The King’s Speech, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, The Ghost Writer, and The Queen. Desplat's mercurial score utilizes musical cues from innovative, atonal, modern composer György Ligeti and lush, 19th century romantic composer Hector Berlioz, and he extends and reshapes those motifs throughout. A meditative mixture of soft piano and long, explorative strings, each section segues into the others with surprising grace. Trance-like in spots and simply transcendent in others (the nearly 12-minute “Circles” manages to faithfully capture all of these notions in a single setting), Desplat was given very little to work with visually before embarking on the score’s creation. Malick told the composer that “music should be like a river flowing through the film,” and from the opening, nostalgic flutter of “Childhood” to the open-ended, harp-plucked swirl of “Skies,” Desplat successfully bends that river to his will.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger
|The Tree of Life|