- Composed by Christopher Gunning
- Caldera Records / 2014 / 53m (score 27m)
Eleanor H. Porter’s 1913 children’s book Pollyanna has been adapted for small and big screen six times, beginning in 1920 with a version starring Mary Pickford, most famously probably Disney’s 1960 version with Hayley Mills – and this one, a 2003 British tv adaptation.
The story is essentially all about looking on the bright side of whatever life throws at you, told through the eyes of a little girl whose positive outlook is severely challenged when her legs are paralysed after a fall – but she is geed up by numerous people who have been affected by her happiness over the years. If it all sounds a bit sickly, it’s worth remembering that it’s aimed at children – and worth also being grateful that it gave Christopher Gunning the chance to write a genuinely lovely score, full of class and charm.
The music is dominated by one theme, light and flowery and relentlessly happy – perhaps evoking in spirit if not compositional style the great Georges Delerue. It is so full of joy it would surely bring a smile to all but the most haggard of faces – sentimental perhaps, but it has to be. It’s not entirely monothematic though and there are plenty of punctuating set pieces with a similarly summery outlook. The “darker” moments in the score are only slightly so – hints only of sadness, routinely quickly overtaken. It’s a short score, a smidgen under half an hour, and made up primarily of short cues, but Gunning is a class act and it holds together very nicely, an album easy to listen to several times in a single sitting. As a bonus, Caldera’s disc includes a 26-minute interview with the composer. Pollyanna is absolutely lovely.