In July, Silva Screen will release the soundtrack to Beginners, a ragtime influenced piano score to Mike Mills’ film starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer.
Released in UK cinemas on July 22nd, this deeply personal film entwines comedy, romance and drama to tell a story about a man who, like Mills, only learns his father is gay upon the death of his mother. Mills’ aim was to embed the music into the emotional texture of the film, so he called upon his earliest musical memories – the music his parents enjoyed in their family home.
Giving a nod to jazz rags, the original score is composed by Roger Neill (King Of The Hill, Chicago Hope), Brian Reitzell (Red Riding Hood, 30 Days Of Night) and Dave Palmer. The soundtrack combines classical music, piano rags and a beautifully collated collection of ragtime and early jazz. These include the wonderful piano stylings of Jelly Roll Morton and the seminal Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael.
Mills says: “This film contains a kind of portrait of my father and my mother – at least one version of them – or maybe it’s just my dream of them…. When I began to study the early jazz-blues-rag, I was led all the way back to Mamie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton. The 1938 Alan Lomax recordings of Jelly Roll – playing fragments of his songs and weaving in and out of conversation about that time period – became my version of my mother’s music and really the harmonic heart of the whole film for me. Hoagy Carmichael’s haunting “Stardust” and Gene Austin’s old world charm in “Everything’s Made For Love” reminded me of all that 1930’s-40’s American music that seemed to run through my mom’s personality… The classical music that my father blasted through the car speakers and in our house late at night got distilled down in my version of him to Bach’s gorgeous Cello Suites – so lonely, simple and yet huge in scope to me.”