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The Claim is a 2000 Britishmarker Western/romance film directed by Michael Winterbottom. The screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce is loosely based on the novel The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. The original music score is composed by Michael Nyman. It was filmed in the vicinity of Calgary, Albertamarker.

Plot summary

In 1867, Daniel Dillon is an Irish immigrant who settled in Californiamarker during the Gold Rush of '49 and has done quite well for himself. Dillon owns nearly every business of consequence in the town of Kingdom Come; if someone wants to dig for gold, rent a room, open a bank account, or even order a drink, they have to go to Dillon to do it. One of the few profitable enterprises in town that he doesn't own is the brothel, which is operated by Lucia, Dillon's Portuguese lover. This cosy arrangement is disturbed by the arrival of a coachload of travellers.

Donald Dalglish is a surveyor with the Central Pacific Railroad, which wants to put a train either through Kingdom Come, or somewhere in the vicinity. He is here to decide the route. Dillon is anxious to ensure that the railway line is routed through "his" town, as this will bring more business. Arriving in town with Dalglish are two women, the beautiful but ailing Elena Burn and her lovely teenage daughter Hope; their presence is deeply troubling for Dillon, for they are the keys to a dark secret Dillon has kept from the people of Kingdom Come for nearly twenty years. Like Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge, he had "sold" them 20 or so years earlier, in his case to a disillusioned prospector named Burn: Burn has died, and Elena is in need of money. (A major departure from the novel is that Hope is indeed Dillon's daughter.)

Much of the emotional interest in the film revolves around Dalglish's ambivalent relations with Lucia (ditched by Dillon when his wife re-appears) and Hope, who is eminently nubile and altogether "a better class of person".

Elena's death coincides with the decision to route the railway some distance from the town. Dillon is thus faced with a double blow.

Main cast

Actor Role
Peter Mullan Daniel Dillon
Milla Jovovich Lucia
Wes Bentley Donald Dalglish
Nastassja Kinski Elena Burn/Elena Dillon
Sarah Polley Hope Burn
Julian Richings Bellanger
Sean McGinley Sweetley
Duncan Frasier Crocker


The Claim is Michael Nyman's first (and, as of 2008, only) score for a Western, and his second collaboration with Michael Winterbottom. In it, in particular, in "The Shootout," Nyman pays homage to Ennio Morricone's Western scores. "The Shooting" also incorporates material from A Zed & Two Noughts and Prospero's Books in a layered manner with elements of the main themes of the score and a Morricone-style trumpet motif. The score includes the principal scalar riff that appears in numerous Nyman works, including Out of the Ruins, String Quartet No. 3, À la folie, Carrington, the rejected score from Practical Magic, and The End of the Affair. The Claim marks Michael Nyman's last use of this musical material (as of 2008).

Portions of the score appear as solo piano works on Nyman's 2005 album, The Piano Sings, which features Nyman's personal piano interpretations of music he had written for various films.

Track listing

  1. The Exchange
  2. The First Encounter
  3. The Hut
  4. The Explosion
  5. The Recollection
  6. The Fiery House
  7. The Betrothal
  8. The Firework Display
  9. The Train
  10. The Shootout
  11. The Death Of Elena
  12. The Explanation
  13. The Burning
  14. The Snowy Death
  15. The Closing


The Michael Nyman Orchestra




Double Bass

Bass Guitar

Oboe/Cor Anglais

Clarinet/Bass Clarinet


Soprano Sax/Alto Sax

Baritone Sax

Trumpet/Flugel/Piccolo Trumpet

French Horn



External links

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