On Air Now
Classic FM Drive with John Brunning 4pm - 7pm
Celebrating the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, Alex Heffes' soundtrack to the 2014 blockbuster combines traditional African music with a 65 piece western orchestra - with remarkable results. Discover the music and the story it tells with our handy guide.
Building from a single wooden flute, Heffes score quickly packs a punch with rhythmic drums and a bright guitar tune to drive the drama forward. The title refers to Mandela's tribal heritage: he was a chief from the Xhosa ethnic group.
Things are reaching crisis point in South Africa and the African National Party are trying to recruit Mandela. As well as making use of the traditional Xhosa flute, the music quickly becomes an restless march - a sign of what is to come.
The black South Africans heading up the African National Party are gradually gaining momentum in their campaign to reclaim power. Heffes' soundtrack uses traditional African instruments, which gradually give way to more orchestral sounds as the story darkens.
A moving love story, told by delicate strings and tender cello solos - with the addition of the single wooden flute representing Mandela's past.
Heffes shows his musical darker side in this ominous track. Expect stabbing cello tunes and eerie clashing chords to heighten the tension.
Secretive and understated, a ticking sound rustles underneath the orchestral backing, as the African National Party prepare to give up their non-violent stance to protest against the government.
Intense throbbing chords give way to a relentless march, with an unsettling African drum beat to propel the musical drama as Mandela is in a police car chase.
Will the ANC renounce their principles and admit to terrorism, or will they stand up for the rights of black South Africans? As Mandela prepares to stand trial, the music draws on themes from earlier in the film, recalling Mandela's family and his tribal roots.
Growing from bleak and understated to resolute and defiant, the cellos come to the fore and the pulsing drum beats return, soundtracking Mandela's sentence and his wife's determination as she leaves the courtroom.
Distorted percussion throbs in surround sound in this oppressive track, giving way to a desolate solo piano line, completely apart from the soundtrack's familiar strings.
Heffes uses more modern instruments as the score goes on to mark the passing of time. It's been decades since Mandela was imprisoned, and the music is no longer bursting with African percussion and flutes - until a soaring solo voice breaks through the orchestral texture to remind Mandela of his heritage.
The film's highly emotive main theme, brought to life with spine-tingling vibrato, shines out in its full orchestral glory, as Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, cast as Nelson and Winnie Mandela, hold their hands and heads high and walk free.
The mood on the streets is far from positive, represented musically by Heffes with this unusual track. Gone are the swirling strings, now replaced by rhythmic drums, electric guitars, and African woodwind.
This dramatic track pulls together so many of the previous themes from Heffes' score. The poignant main theme, the angry drums, the growling strings - they all come together to create atmospheric new musical material.
Strings, drums, guitars, and a full-throated Xhosa singer come together to perform the final track on the album - uplifting and reflective in equal measure.