Adam and Dog is an Oscar-nominated short animated film from first-time director Minkyu Lee. Two years in the making, Lee’s experience as a Disney animator shows in this beautifully-realised animated Garden of Eden tale. The eponymous Dog is inquisitive about its surroundings, investigating everything in this apparently new world of his. He eventually meets Adam and after an initial wariness, they become friends and firm companions. However, their friendship is put at risk when Adam’s attention is diverted by the appearance of a woman (Eve). The dog is quickly ignored and abandoned. Adam and Dog examines the companionship and loyalty exhibited in the special relationship between man and dog. (The short film can be viewed HERE.)
The score, composed by Joey Newman (Any Day Now), plays an important role in Lee’s film, even though it is heard only sparingly. The film contains no dialogue and this immediately places the spotlight on other aspects of the film to drive the story. The animation, sound design and score become important storytellers and the director tasked Newman’s score to help convey the innocence and playfulness of the dog – and later the companionship between man and dog. Interestingly, the composer holds off from introducing music until the dog and Adam have met and become companions (almost halfway into the film). Composed for only a handful of instruments, xylophone introduces the score and immediately reinforces the organic, forested setting of the drama as well as adding a playfulness to the blossoming friendship of the film’s protagonsists (”Adam and Dog”). The appearance of a bright and playful woodwind solo and the inclusion of an innocent string melodic line (which appears to be a thematic reference to Adam), the score quickly establishes the strength of their friendship. This one minute sequence is the only scored segment of the drama and shows the pair at their happiest .
Equally important in the film are the moments when there is no music. (Newman’s score is a great example of how intelligent spotting of a film can increase the impact of the presence and absence of music.) The absence of music either side of “Adam and Dog” highlights the loneliness of Dog prior to the encounter with Adam (before the appearance of music) and it accentuates the loneliness felt by the canine when Adam meets Eve and completely abandons the dog just when the dog’s friendship with Adam is established (after the end of the cue). Once the friendship between Adam and the dog has been firmly established with Newman’s cue, the remainder of the film plays with no music. The lack of music continues even when the dog tracks Adam (and together with Eve) and is accepted by the human couple who have, by this time, been expelled from their “Eden”. However, as the end credits run, the second and final cue of the score is heard. At this point, the various elements heard in “Adam and Dog” are reprised and are now more tightly intertwined in a musical statement of the new friendships formed. But, the tempo of this second cue is slower compared with “Adam and Dog” and the orchestration is slightly altered meaning that the innocence of first cue is now lost. By doing this, Newman is able to convey the idea that, even though the relationships have been reformed, what has gone on before has changed the nature of the new relationship between Adam and the dog.
Joey Newman’s score for Adam and Dog may be slight – it lasts just over 2 minutes – but it plays an important role in the film both in terms of the music itself but also by being when it is present or absent. The composer’s use of specific instruments immediately adds a layer to the drama that is played out between Adam and the dog as their relationship develops and is threatened. The interesting choice of instruments used in the score did remind me somewhat of the sometimes-inspired orchestrational choices of his uncle, Thomas Newman. This was particularly strong when the woodwind solo (clarinet?) is featured. This was a shame as Joey Newman is always going to be compared with other members of the Newman musical family. This short score sets out its ideas quickly and clearly and plays long enough for the listener to hear development of the initial ideas too. Adam and Dog is a great example of how digital presentation can give general access to music that wouldn’t otherwise be made available and is widely available as a digital release via several online stores.
Audio samples can be found HERE.
- Adam and Dog (1:13)
- Adam, Dog and Eve (1:12)
Running Time: 2:26
Joey Newman (2012)