I’d like to take a little time in presenting my thoughts on The Personal History of David Coperfield. I’m discussing the soundtrack or score by Christopher Willis, not the film. The film doesn’t get a release in the states quite yet. June 15th is the proposed date of the release. Now, if you have seen the film, fantastic.
Here is the plot of this modern retelling of the Classic Charles Dickens Tale of David Coperfield…
Adapted from the classic novel by Charles Dickens, THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD brings to life one of the author’s most cherished characters. From birth to infancy, from adolescence to adulthood, the good-hearted David Copperfield (Dev Patel) is surrounded by kindness, wickedness, poverty and wealth, as he meets an array of remarkable characters in Victorian England. As David sets out to be a writer, in his quest for family, friendship, romance and status, the story of his life is the most seductive tale of all.
The film seems to be very unique and wonderfully cast, with actors such as Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Peter Capaldi, Ben Whishaw, and Gwendoline Christie among many others.
The score, which is composed by Christopher Willis, is a brilliant, neoclassical British score. Christopher Willis has been known for The Death of Stalin which if you have listened to Cinematic Sound Radio, you know Erik Woods said, “one of the greatest film music debuts, I think, of all time“. Willis weaves a alluring and utterly wonderful classical piece of film music that imitates Rachel Portman, Rolf Kent, and even some older composers such as Miklos Rozsa.
What i’ve done is describe much of the film music in singular way. The film, from the trailer’s that I’ve watched is very visually stunning and the score reflects some of the aspects of what you are watching through the emotional and even uplifting music you hear.
Some of the tracks I won’t include for they don’t stand out to me thoroughly enough.
My Own Story – This cue really is energetic and exotic with the multilayered violins fighting for dominance in the cue. The brass is loud, but expressive and wonderfully colored with tiny bits of flute to encompass the inertia of the piece.
Yarmouth – This is haunting and slowpaced. I found the tuba’s to be the dominant instrument for this cue. I really felt at ease with this piece of music. It’s gentle, floating and illustrates what our hero or character is facing with real world environments.
The Bottling Factory – Now as I’ve said before, I’ve not seen this movie and don’t know the context of the film. This is a thrilling and tense cue, it gives some excellent high string moments that carry the main motif through the piece of music, with elements of the brass exploding through the short lived piece.
A Corker of a Corker – Wonderfully paced and expands on the main theme of our lead character David Coperfield. This is also a very exhilerating piece that really gives me goosebumps when I hear it. Now I’ve listened to this score at least four times in succession and each time, I turn up this piece. Wonderful
A Blissful Summer – This piece is very light and airy, it is utterly blissful. It gives you a calm, serene feeling and yet also hightens your awareness of the characters moments in this summer montage, I would almost call it a montage.
Mr. Dick and the Kite – I imagine that Hugh Laurie plays this role fantastically. I love the piano in this cue as well as the flute that whips through like the wind that carries a real kite. Mr. Dick is probably a very engaging character and I can’t wait to see the film.
Tall Tales – This is a dark piece of music, its almost meloncholy in nature and solemn. Its utterly sad and low, but also gives some excellent tense moments that remind me of other cues of music from classic horror films such as The Wolfman, and from other tense pieces through the course of Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Adventures of a London Gentleman – I really love how Willis plays on the same key theme throughout the score, highlighting the light ariness of the piece and it actually gives us some exhilerating energy that really makes you happy. You feel enjoyment for the piece of music and are carried along through the cue.
Emily Gone – This is another piece of music that fills me with tension and unease. I honestly don’t like it, but actually can’t help listening to it for the fantastic complex writing that Willis presents with this. The character I’m unfamiliar with, but it could be a romantic interest that is swept away from our lead character which is further expounded upon with The Search for Emily. These are not very long cues, but the theme for Emily is clear, it is an extension of David’s theme and is beautifully tragic.
David’s Writings – This is my impression of David writing of his experiences thus far through his journey to be a writer, to be a man, to be grown up, and have experiences with life, love and defeat. I really like how it builds through the cue, the violin, gets stronger and stronger, the brass is low key, and the piano is hard and expressive.
The Shipwreck – This reminds me of the title cue, its intense and fascinating. The horns and violins fight for their all together companionship in this well constructed complex piece of music.
A Life Well Written – If I were writing a novel, this is the music I would use to explain contemplative thinking, whether facing an illness, loss, happiness, conversation, experiences or just feeling through the lives of others. I really love how simple the cue is, David’s theme at a low end of the spectrum and is overtaken by the main writing theme. Another expression of this music is through the examples of Rachel Portman as she weaves her music when doing period pieces such as Emma and others.
These Pages Must Show ( End Credits) – I have to say, this is a very short ending credits piece for the score, it could have been expounded upon, there should be more music used during this very brief cue. I was disappointed in its coverage. There could have been a combination of several of the main themes in the score, weaving some excellent writing for the ending cue to tie up the loose ends. Even with that said, it leaves a brilliance in the simple execution of the quick paced action writing that Willis is so good at.
In conclusion, this score is a wonderful example of Christopher Willis’ work. I find that he is a very talented composer who awed the world with The Death of Stalin and now presents a classical exhilerating piece of music that can be an addition to anyone’s library of film music.
This is actually my first review of a complete soundtrack. I hope you’ve enjoyed how I’ve presented the material. eventually I’ll do this as a podcast and you can really hear how the pieces of music fit together and how they weave this wonderful tale.
I’d like to thank Republic Media for giving me the opportunity to write a review of the score. Christopher Willis will certainly be on my radar for future releases.
You can find Christopher Willis through https://www.christopherwilliscomposer.com/
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Thank you again for reading this review and I hope to present more in the future.
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