Score Saturday: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them – James Newton Howard

I’ve seen this film a couple of times now (hurray!) and hoping I’ll get to see it a handful times more before it leaves the theaters. And while we are on this matter, an amen for the IMAX in Hyderabad. I’m glad you exist.

Moving on…(oh waitttt…where’s the movie review you ask? Well at this point in this all I can say is it’s coming! 🙂 )

So let’s talk about the music! But before that, a word about John Williams (the one who scored for the first three Harry Potter films). Every memorable musical piece from the Potter films – be it the Hedwig’s theme or Harry’s Wondrous World or my personal favourite Leaving Hogwarts – have been John’s creations. Yes, there were other composers after him who have done some splendid work but if you notice closely, they all still take off of what John has established. He was the one to lay the musical foundation for everything that was to follow.

But when I heard that James Newton Howard would be scoring Fantastic Beasts, I had my hopes high since he is somebody who always seems to have a trick up his sleeve. The big challenge now is do something entirely now, and not making it sound like an extension to the Potter scores, and to that effect I think James has indeed succeeded very well. And this becomes evident when you listen to the opening theme itself, which instantly registers as something new and yet carrying the same magical air. Go on, give this a go! (Note: This score makes more sense after you’ve seen the film.)

The delightfully magical sound continues in my next favourite piece (I’m going in chronological order). We are given the very first glimpse of MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America!) headquarters in this one and I instantly fell in love with the motif that plays as the camera pans around and rises to give us a breathtaking view of the atrium! (starts at 00:51)

Oooh, this next one is grand! And for this, we need to enter Newt Scamander’s magically extended suitcase that is also an animal preserve. And at this point,  I was completely swooning over the three-note violin melody that may sound simple but captures that essence of adventure and “experiencing something for the first time” so damned well.

Now moving onto something a little more soul-stirring. If you’ve seen the film, this is the one that plays when Queenie asks Newt about his ex-lover Leta Lestrange. I know we’ve barely scratched the surface of Newt’s past here and there’s definitely more of Leta and Newt in the sequels. I wish they reuse and expand this theme into something more as what we’ve got right now is a smidge of a lot of things, with heartbreak and nostalgia topping the list. And I’d love to drown in this a little deeper.

(Try this: Put this on loop for about 5-6 times and tell me if it doesn’t do anything to you.)

An utterly sad one, the next. My heart went out for Credence. This piece didn’t register much in the theater, as I was probably already too overwhelmed by whatever was unfolding but listening to it now, damn, this is beautiful music!

Ooh we’ve reached the climax (of course you weren’t expecting me to cover the whole album, were you? :P). BUT, this is where it gets better!! And I think “Newt Releases The Thunderbird” (skip to 5:00) is gonna become my next favourite score from the Potterverse. And just the way everything comes together in this scene, tying multiple threads together neatly, is so classic Rowling that you can’t help but feel a sense of wonder.

The ending bits of this belong to Jacob Kowalski, oh you delightful being you. Obliviate!

Now we’re saying goodbyes and to new beginnings! My favourite motif repeats again, mellower this time. And the movie leaves you right here with a bittersweet smile on your face.

Well now I’ve taken you through a musical journey of some of the best scores from the movie, but ain’t no album without a kickass End Titles score. And James tries to do a John Powell and pulls it off neatly too! Equally magical and epic, this one.

Have a great day, no-majs! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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