EXCLUSIVE: Three years after an eventful awards season with Garth Davis’s Lion, composers Dustin O’Halloran and Volker Bertelmann look to contend once again, with their score to Francis Lee’s Ammonite.
On Wednesday, the pair said their latest original motion picture soundtrack, from Milan Records, will debut on Friday, November 13, sharing with Deadline their stirring lead single “Fossils.”
For O’Halloran and Bertelmann, the process of scoring Ammonite proved both smooth and organic. “We knew from Francis Lee’s previous work this would be a score full of emotion and restraint. Because the film is a period piece, it also meant finding a tone and instrumentation that would work in this world,” the composers said. “The overall length of music recorded is somewhat shorter than our other scores; therefore, we used many natural sounds, so when the pieces arrive, it feels meaningful.”
Landing on “a small chamber group of strings and piano” as their musical palette, the pair would ultimately write nine evocative cues for the film.
Set in 1840s England, Ammonite centers on Mary Anning (Kate Winslet), a once-famous paleontologist who spends her days alone, collecting fossils on the craggy Southern coastline of Lyme Regis. While it initially seems like Mary’s best days may be behind her, her life is changed forever when she meets Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), a young woman grappling with a personal tragedy, who is sent to convalesce by the sea.
Produced by See-Saw Films, the British Film Institute and BBC Films, the romantic drama marks the fifth collaboration between O’Halloran and Bertelmann. Earning their first Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Critics’ Choice Awards for Lion, the pair have also teamed on scores for FX miniseries A Christmas Carol, Simon Curtis’ The Art of Racing in the Rain and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard—the latter the Netflix action pic, starring Charlize Theron, which debuted in July.
Also starring Gemma Jones, James McArdle, Alec Secăreanu and Fiona Shaw, Ammonite had its world premiere in September at the Toronto Film Festival, where Winslet picked up the Tribute Actor Award. Distributed in the U.S. by Neon, the pic will open in select theaters November 13.
For a first sampling of the Ammonite soundtrack, listen to “Fossils” by clicking below.