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The music of 'Ex Machina': How the score helps Ava get what she wants

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The music of a movie is largely responsible for its personality and its personalities. Think of Psycho or Lawrence of Arabia. Think of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns or Jaws. The score can make all the difference about the way you feel about a movie character, and once firmly established, the filmmaker can then manipulate it in a way that teases or surprises the audience. 

The music in Ex Machina is a crucial element of Ava, the artificial-intelligence character played by Alicia Vikander. Her theme is more subtle than the ones mentioned above, but no less effective. In a new exclusive featurette about the music from the film, which expands nationwide on Friday, writer/director Alex Garland and composers Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow explain the delicate fairy-tale introductory music, with chimes reminiscent of an child’s innocent nursery rhyme. You can almost hear an echo of the five-tone motif from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But later, that sound of purity disintegrates, evolving into something potentially sinister. Watch and listen to this exclusive video.

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