Personnel: Adam Wiltzie (lap steel guitar); Zac Rae (piano, electric harpsichord); Geoff Foster (piano).
Audio Mixers: Francesco Donadello; Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Recording information: Abbey Road Studios, London; Air Studios, London.
Arrangers: Jóhann Jóhannsson; Nicklas Schmidt.
Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson's elegant score for the 2014 Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything relies heavily on stirring, lightly minimalist elements and a simple four-note ostinato that is developed and deconstructed at various points throughout the soundtrack. The film, directed by James Marsh, follows Hawking from his days as a healthy and promising young Oxford undergrad to the disabled theoretical physics genius who was forced to communicate through a computer. It's an inspirational tale of overcoming physical adversity through determination and fierce intellect, and Jóhannsson reflects this internal universe with a smart and largely uplifting orchestral score. Hawking's courtship and marriage to wife Jane are at the center of the film and their dedication to one another is reflected here in several wistful, romantic themes punctuated by darker, more haunted elements. Often known for blending icy minimalism with textural electronics, Jóhannsson's work here is far more sentimental, telling the story of Hawking's humanity rather than his science. ~ Timothy Monger