A stellar orchestra featuring a strings-and-piano tag team combine to create a nice ebb and flow in Alan Silvestri’s latest motion picture musical score for the World War II romantic thriller film, Allied, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. Pitt plays intelligence officer Max Vatan, who in 1942 North Africa encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beauséjour, played by Cotillard, on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.
Silvestri, a frequent collaborator with director/producer/filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Contact, Forest Gump, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit), enhances the compelling mix between epic sequences and intimate, closed-quartered gems.
Silvestri composed and conducted a strong 13-track work with memorable standouts and classic re-orchestrated pieces. He incorporates modern instruments and elements into the score, which were a little distracting when viewing the film (no spoilers in this review though be cautious when reading the track titles). Silvestri also wrote the first eight tracks.
The opening music in “Essaouira Desert/Main Title” sets the stage in an amazing way and, predictably, is the only track longer that five minutes besides the ending credits. The piano begins. Then the strings. Then both are playing as the rhythm and timing with striking visuals in the film really set the tone for the film. The strings provide an air of mystery as the piano echoes. A low-volume bassoon and solo flute also deepen the experience.
The score settles in with “What Are Our Odds?” and then the third track, “German Embassy,” is predictably tense and modern-sounding. The appealing percussion ramps up audiences who see more of the wartime espionage elements in the film, while the audio experience gets the body moving and the mind racing.
“It’s a Girl” uses sentimental strings for the main power, then the piano fills out the piece that stands out as an audio experience as well as one of the most important, revealing sequences in the film’s plot.
The fifth track, “Trust”, carries big weight, and it is followed by “Confession/Escape,” which has impressive percussion at the beginning. The score piece section ends with “The Letter/End Credit” and runs for almost six and a half minutes.
The five 1940s-era (and earlier) remakes, well-chosen and arranged by Silvestri, are relegated to the last section, starting with the ninth track “The Sheik of Araby,” written by Harry B. Smith & Francis Wheeler with music by Ted Snyder. This tune takes the listener back in time and well represents the more pleasurable aspects of the main characters’ mission.
Next comes the upbeat “You Are My Lucky Star,” written by Nacio Brown & Arthur Freed and filled with jazzy sounds and big band instruments. This composition was originally in Broadway Melody of 1936 and then in the classic 1952 film Singin’ in the Rain, so the nostalgia could be even higher than the strong amount already produced.
“J’Attendrai” (French for “I will wait”) blends perfectly as the next offering and was first recorded by Rina Ketty in 1938 and is a French version of “Tornerai”, an Italian song.
This score ends on two uptempo classics remakes: “Sing, Sing, Sing” and the upbeat finale “Flying Home,” featuring some amazing horns and xylophone work.
“Sing” was originally written and composed by Louis Prima in 1936 and features woodwinds, horn(s), and toms (drums). A healthy length and featured solos require repeat listens. Try not tapping your foot to this classic. “Flying Home” runs under two minutes and has that memorable trombone slide with back-and-forth quieter xylophone – turn up the volume – answered by a pleasantly blaring trumpet.
Other music heard in the film includes “Fais-Moi Valser” performed by Edith Piaf, “Call to Prayer” by Youssef Kerkour, “String Quartet in C Major Op. 76,” written by Joseph Haydn and arranged by Silvestri, “I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones,” and “Berceuses Du Chat Dodo,” written by Igor Stravinsky and performed the film’s female lead, Cotillard, who is already an accomplished singer.
Allied stars Pitt (World War Z, Inglorious Bastards) and Cotillard (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), with the supporting cast of Lizzy Caplan (Girls Club, Safe the Date), Matthew Goode (Selfless, The Imitation Game), and Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, Pompeji 3D).
Sony Classical’s Allied (Music from the Motion Picture) comes recommended for strong transitions while almost every track stands out among this 16th Silvestri/Zemeckis collaboration, with hopefully more to come.