William Ross' score for the screen adaptation of Natalie Babbitt's fantasy about
a never-aging woodland family, "Tuck Everlasting," is strangely,
warmly familiar. If you have ever felt at home in a foreign land... that is
the feeling here.
Folksy orchestrations accentuate the film's atmosphere of rural Maryland, America,
but Ross touches on a variety of styles from around the globe, noting in the
press release that a position on the music "was that it also not be
geographically obvious." It isn't. The invented Tuck Band draws from
such disparate sources that the credits include the general citation of 'ethnic
flutes' (devotees of fellow critic Paul Tonks are already aware that this translates
as "What the heck are those instruments?"), and the more traditional
moments of the underscore rarely play unchecked. The primitive beat of 'Cave
Dance' so shortly after the piano 'Elegy' would be enough to boggle the mind,
yet otherworldly whistling, fiddles mingling with unusual percussion, music-box
themes, broadly played strings, and waves of melodrama feature, as well. This
is a strange assortment.
But few of the aforementioned ideas are entirely alien. In particular, broadly
played strings and waves of melodrama are perfectly standard fare in movies
for young people. Now, consider that the composer took ingredients that are
readily available and made them into an agreeable stew. This is where we feel
the warmth. What might be puerile, coarse, or common in itself finds a balance
in combination. Here is that rare bird in the Arts, a collection that is more
than the sum of its parts.'>
Working against the soundtrack is a lack of distinctive themes. There are melodies,
rest assured, but only the whistled fragments linger. I might suggest that this
is because they are underutilized, except the themes are strictly by-the-book
and unlikely to work better with repetition.
I again delight in the fact that the musicians receive a full listing in the
album booklet, although the Powers That Be cheaped-out on notes and track times.
Maria Newman, Alfred's daughter, is among the credits--the Newman dynasty extends
to all areas of filmusic. William Ross' score for "Tuck Everlasting"
expertly stretches in its own domain; the results are not timeless, but charming