Why does that one track in The Last Of Us Episode 3 sound so familiar?

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulFeb 02, 2023 | 08:00

Why does that one track in The Last Of Us Episode 3 sound so familiar?

Wondering where you’ve heard the music that featured in The Last Of Us’s latest heartbreaking episode? Here’s a brief look at that iconic piece of music.

For those of who aren’t caught up with Episode 3 of HBO’s The Last Of Us (we highly suggest you do), SPOILER ALERT:

“Long, Long Time” has had the world in tears ever since its premiere. Its show stealing characters, Bill and Frank, grow old together in the apocalypse, where families were torn apart and love was a lost concept. Their final day, marked by their wedding, was likely one of their happiest, in stark contrast to the weeping messes they left us in.

Frank and Bill in HBO's The Last Of Us

What really drove the montage of scenes for their tear-jerking last day together however was German-born British composer Max Richter’s iconic classical composition, On The Nature of Daylight.

The a minimalist piece of music is both haunting and beautiful in its simplicity. On The Nature of Daylight is based on the concept of time, as the composer explores the cyclical nature of life through a series of repetitive musical patterns. The music reflects on the nature of life, death, and the eternal nature of time itself.

The piece begins with a simple piano melody, which is repetitive and repetitive. The piano is accompanied by a series of strings that create a delicate atmosphere. The music is sparse and minimal, but it builds in intensity as the piece progresses. The use of repetition helps to create a sense of timelessness, as the listener is able to lose themselves in the hypnotic rhythms of the music.

As the piece moves into its second section, the strings become more prominent, and the piano is replaced by a series of haunting violin melodies. These violin lines are slow and mournful, and they create a sense of loss and sadness. The music is emotional, but it is also comforting, as it reflects on the cyclical nature of life and death.


In the final section of the composition, the strings take center stage, and the violin lines become more complex and intricate. The music becomes more intense, and it builds to a crescendo, which represents the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. The music is beautiful and emotional, and it leaves the listener with a sense of peace and comfort.

The ethereal composition has been widely used in a variety of different forms of media since its release in 2002 as a part of Richter’s sophomore album, The Blue Notebooks.

The piece has been utilised in numerous films, commercials, and television shows, making it one of the most recognizable and widely used pieces of contemporary classical music.

One of its most memorable incorporations include Martin Scorsese’s 2005 psychological thriller, Shutter Island. Scorsese likely chose the piece for its haunting quality and the effortlessness with which it conveyed a sense of loss and disorientation. The use of the music in the film helped to create a dreamlike atmosphere, intensifying the suspense and suspending viewers in melancholia.

The inclusion of On The Nature Of Daylight in Denis Villenueve’s 2016 sci-fi drama, Arrival,  sparked controversy in the film score community and ultimately disqualified the film from the Best Original Score category at the Oscars. The film's composer, Johann Johannsson, was robbed of a nomination and potential win as a result.


Johannsson's score for Arrival was praised for its originality and emotional impact, however, Villeneuve chose to use Richter's track in the film's climax. The use of this pre-existing piece of music was seen as a violation of the Academy's rules for the Best Original Score category, which state that a score must be predominantly original and created specifically for the film.

As a result, Arrival was disqualified from the Best Original Score category, and Johannsson was not given the recognition he deserved for his work on the film before his untimely passing in 2018. This sparked outrage among film score fans and professionals, who felt that Johannsson's score was original and deserving of recognition.

The Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson. Photo: Getty Images

The controversy surrounding Arrival's score highlights the importance of the Academy's rules for the Best Original Score category, as well as the need for greater recognition of film composers and their contributions to the art of film. Johannsson's work on Arrival was a standout example of the artistry and creativity that goes into creating a film score, and his exclusion from the Oscars was a disappointment for those who appreciated his work.

Here is a complete list of films and television series that incorporated On The Nature of Daylight:

  • Stranger than Fiction (2006)
  • The Trip (2010)
  • Shutter Island (2010)
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
  • Disconnect (2012)
  • White Night (2012)
  • Luck, "Episode Four" (2012)
  • The Face of an Angel (2014)
  • The Connection (2014)
  • Sherpa (2015)
  • Me and Kaminski (2015)
  • Arrival (2016)
  • Vatanim Sensin (2016)
  • The Innocents (2016)
  • Castle Rock, "The Queen" (2018)
  • Togo (2019)
  • The Light in Your Eyes, "The Proposal" (2019)
  • 9-1-1, "Malfunction" (2019)
  • 35th Anniversary of EastEnders (2020)
  • Amazing Stories (2020)
  • The Handmaid's Tale, "Progress" (2021)
  • Kleo (2022)
  • The Last of Us, "Long Long Time" (2023)

However shrouded in controversy the piece may be, On The Nature of Daylight is emotional, beautiful, and reflective, and it is a testament to the power of minimalism in music.

Last updated: February 02, 2023 | 08:00
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