Ammonite tells the story of acclaimed self-taught paleontologist Mary Anning, who works alone on the wild and brutal Southern English coastline of Lyme Regis in the 1840s. The days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now hunts for common fossils to sell to rich tourists to support herself and her ailing widowed mother. When one such tourist, Roderick Murchison, arrives in Lyme on the first leg of a European tour, he entrusts Mary with the care of his young wife Charlotte, who is recuperating from a personal tragedy. Mary, whose life is a daily struggle on the poverty line, cannot afford to turn him down but, proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, she clashes with her unwanted guest. They are two women from utterly different worlds. Yet despite the chasm between their social spheres and personalities, Mary and Charlotte discover they can each offer what the other has been searching for: the realization that they are not alone. It is the beginning of a passionate and all-consuming love affair that will defy all social bounds and alter the course of both lives irrevocably.
Directed by Francis Lee and starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite features a beautiful piano-driven score written by by Dustin O’Halloran and Volker Bertelmann (aka Hauschka), who previously teamed on the Academy® Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe® Award-nominated score for 2016’s Lion, A Christmas Carol and more. NEON will open the film in select theaters on Friday, November 13.
Of the soundtrack, composers O’Halloran and Bertelmann say, “Writing music for Ammonite was a smooth and natural process. We already knew from director 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 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. We decided for a small chamber group of strings and piano as our palette and worked from there. Francis’s original idea was to find a single piece of music playing in parts and come to a full suite at the end. In some ways, this was how we approached it, save for a few moments of score specific to the scene. We found the strong acting that both Kate and Saoirse brought meant we needed to offer space, and try not to overstep. The last piece of music in the film, during the museum scene, represented a full understanding of the emotions that played out between the two characters.”