Soul Surfer – Marco Beltrami’s Moving Score

music soul surfer

Bethany Hamilton, an inspiring teenage surfer who experienced a shark attack and survived, tells an inspiring true story through this movie based on true events. Featuring Hawaiian mele chants to contemporary pop, its soundtrack encompasses all types of music.

Marco Beltrami is best-known for his work on horror films, yet he delivers an outstanding score for Soul Surfer. A notable track from this score is “Shark Attack”, featuring a gravel-voiced singer intoning menacing chants over an orchestral backdrop with throbbing percussion and growling strings.

Theme Music

Soul Surfer, released in 2011, tells the uplifting true story of teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton and her brave resiliency following losing an arm to a shark attack. Despite her tragedy, Bethany continues competing in surfing competitions despite losing one arm, and this touching movie offers many touching scenes of reconciliation with family members, faith, and forgiveness. Marco Beltrami, known for his work in horror/science fiction films such as Saw, is an unlikely choice as composer; yet his score was both beautiful and deeply moving – an ideal accompaniment for this lighter redemptive drama.

While numerous composers could have provided generic background music tracks for the film, Beltrami wisely chose to address all themes and emotions within his score for Bethany: native Hawaiian chants to represent island culture; beautiful choir singing that invoked religious aspects; piano-guitar contemplations depicting Bethany’s journey back home with family; as well as an expansive orchestral ensemble to depict both ocean expanse and surfing competitions.

One of the most striking elements is the incorporation of small ensemble vocal performances into the score, from upbeat location chants featuring female tones to deep and throaty male chanting in shark attack cues – these voices add texture and meaning and emotion to the music and add an additional dimension of meaning and emotion to it all.

Original Score

Soul Surfer chronicles the inspirational true story of Bethany Hamilton, an Hawaiian surfer who survived a shark attack that nearly took her life. The movie chronicles her recovery and triumphant return to competitive surfing despite losing an arm due to this attack. Marco Beltrami (renowned composer of horror and science fiction scores) took on this project as a labor of love, and it shows.

He integrated native Hawaiian chants into the score to reflect both Bethany’s culture and spirit of the ocean as well as the Hawaiian spirit that pervades it all. Furthermore, small ensemble vocal performances were utilized, from female-toned location chants to deep, throaty male voices used for shark attack cues; all served to further communicate themes central to this film.

Rhythmically, the score is both dynamic and free-spirited. It begins with a lively surf competition cue featuring tribal drums and shakers before transitioning into new lyrics that highlight both freedom of the sea as well as its intimate relationship between surfer and wave – creating an incredible impactful effect that leaves audiences breathless.

At the same time, the score embodies the Christian faith represented in this movie without becoming overt. Although not prominently highlighted within its narrative, its presence can be felt throughout its music with biblical references and praise for God; these themes echoed through every verse as its main theme is that faith helps keep one steadfast through difficult times.

Overall, the soundtrack is an inspiring and heartwarming collection of music that will appeal to any audience. It includes styles ranging from James “Bla” Pahinui’s Hawaiian slack-key guitar (“Ho’oheno Keia No Beauty”) by James Bla Pahinui to Brian Setzer’s rockabilly (“Go Go Godzilla”) and Two Door Cinema Club’s indie pop (“This Is the Life”) from Two Door Cinema Club. All four tracks come together seamlessly by way of narrative flow for an engaging musical experience for all four tracks that provides a cohesive musical experience that leaves all listeners satisfied and fulfilled musically satisfied.


On April 5, the soundtrack for the 2011 film Soul Surfer was released, including songs by James “Bla” Pahinui, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Britt Nicole, and Two Door Cinema Club. The collection captures the film’s story of teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton who survived a shark attack but went on to become one of youth surfing’s champions.

Marco Beltrami has long been recognized for his award-winning scores to horror and science fiction films, but he’s also written great conventional dramas. For this particular movie he incorporates traditional Hawaiian mele chants into the score, symbolizing spiritual elements inherent to Hawaiian culture that give Bethany strength during a difficult ordeal.

Soul Surfer tells the real life tale of teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton, who endured incredible challenges after she lost an arm due to a shark bite. AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid and Carrie Underwood make an appearance in this inspiring tale that shines a light on a remarkable woman – and moviegoers! – who all helped Bethany recover successfully after she faced this life-altering incident.


Soul Surfer features the central theme of “soul surfing”, where surfing transcends sport into a way of life. This concept was highlighted early on, when Hawaiian musician chanted prayer-like phrases about surfing as part of its culture chant. There’s also plenty of surfing action featured throughout, along with songs that honor this aspect.

One distinguishing feature of this soundtrack compared to other surf albums is its inclusion of lyrics on many of the tracks, giving listeners more opportunity to get into the surfing spirit of this album. One particularly engaging and exciting track on this record is “Crazy Surf,” written and performed by Nashville singer-songwriter Mat Kearney; featuring intense guitar work and an engaging samba-esque beat while featuring some acoustic backing vocals that add another level to this piece’s sound.

Another excellent track is “Big Drum Competition,” featuring an astoundingly large orchestral performance with all kinds of drums and rattles underlying it. One notable aspect of this scene is how its voice from shark attack reappears in completely different lyrics that refer to freedom in the ocean and intimacy between wave and surfer.

Soul Surfer features an engaging collection of recordings that spans various genres and styles. Marco Beltrami may be best-known for his horror- and psychological-themed scores, yet he proves his mettle with this lighter redemptive sports drama by writing an exciting soundtrack score worthy of being heard as much as any other composer could.