Supernova is a heartbreaking film which follows two men – Sam and Tusker – who have been in a relationship for 20 years, as they embark on a trip across England in an old camper van to visit friends and family after Tusker is diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Harry Macqueen directed the film based on the screenplay he wrote himself, having previously only directed one other film: Hinterland, which he also wrote and directed, but also starred in. It follows a similar plot trajectory, with childhood friends Harvey and Lola going on a road trip to the seaside cottage where they spent much of their youth.
Who wrote the music in Supernova?
The music in Supernova features piano and strings, with repeated minimalist-style melodies exploring intervals and broken chords. It is predominantly melancholic in style, due to the subject matter. Even the more hopeful tracks have an undercurrent of darkness looming in the lower strings.
The score to Supernova was written by singer-songwriter Keaton Henson, who is a fairly new face in the film music scene. He is well known as a musician, poet and visual artist, having previously released six studio albums, a graphic novel and a collection of poetry.
It’s not the first time Henson has worked with orchestral instruments and longer scoring projects. The release of his instrumental album Romantic Works in 2014 featured cellist Ren Ford and inspired him to work in a more ‘classical-crossover’ style. In 2015, he composed a score for a dance project by BalletBoyz titled Young Men, which was then shot on location in France with the BalletBoyz dancers depicted as soldiers during the First World War. In 201, Henson’s Six Lethargies for string orchestra – a 70-minute work – was premiered by the Britten Sinfonia at the Barbican Centre, before going on to be performed at the Sydney Opera House. It was then released on the Mercury KX label in 2019.
Keaton Henson’s style is inspired by composers including Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass and Górecki. Because of his chronic anxiety, Henson rarely performs live and prefers to work in solitude.
What is the piece of music Colin Firth’s character Sam plays on the piano in Supernova?
It’s Elgar’s haunting Salut d’Amour that’s heard on the piano in the heartbreaking finale of Supernova.
Elgar’s Salut d’Amour was originally written for violin and piano, but is heard in Supernova in a solo piano arrangement.
Find out more about the eminent British composer Edward Elgar and his music here.
Does Colin Firth play the piano in Supernova?
It’s not clear whether all the piano playing Colin Firth’s character Sam plays in Supernova, but it has been said that some of the playing was done by Firth himself – including the performance of Elgar’s Salut d’Amour. In his review of the film for the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw complimented Firth’s playing: ‘Firth gives his own perfectly serviceable piano performance of Elgar’s Salut d’Amour, all the more of a lump-in-the-throat moment for its unflashiness.’
However, the piece is performed by pianist Jeremy Young on the film’s soundtrack.
Colin Firth’s character Sam is a former concert pianist, whose skills may have somewhat depreciated in the years since he stopped playing professionally, but he still plays at a very high standard.
Where can you stream the soundtrack to Supernova?
Can you buy the soundtrack to Supernova?
The soundtrack to Supernova was released earlier this year on Lakeshore Records.
Track listing: Supernova soundtrack
- Keaton Henson: The Night Sky
- Keaton Henson: Losing Tusker
- Keaton Henson: The Lake
- Keaton Henson: The Road to Lilly’s
- Keaton Henson: A Silent Drive
- Keaton Henson: Stargazing
- Keaton Henson: Let Me Be With You
- Keaton Henson: Supernova
- Elgar: Salut d’Amour (performed by Jeremy Young)
Where can you watch Supernova online?
Unlike many films released in 2020 and 2021, Supernova was able to receive a cinema release. It’s also available to watch online, if you’d rather stay at home. You can rent Supernova to watch on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.