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! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Score Saturday: Light of the Seven, Game of Thrones – Ramin Djawadi

S6E10 of Game of Thrones was probably the most satisfying episode of the whole series. It took some big steps, and the story arcs finally seem to be converging.

The pièce de résistance, of course, were the opening ten minutes. You know what I’m talking about! (if you don’t, you better close this right now!). Although we all probably had an inkling of what exactly was gonna happen ultimately, there was still a suspense of how it was all gonna play out. And also the more important question, who all would die?? (Side note: I totally like the way Cersei deals with her problems!) The wildfire was never mentioned, but when you finally see it, the candles melting down like a ticking time bomb, pray to God if it didn’t make your hearts racing. In one sweeping instant, everybody is dead while Cersei stands atop the Red Keep, saying her final fuck-you’s. Exactly the kind of scene GRRM would have an orgasm writing.

But let’s talk about the music. Using pianos in Game of Thrones may seem like an outrageous idea given the setting but when they finally do appear, holy-shit did it feel ominous! We instantly knew something was gonna happen, what with the way it slowly builds tension. Everybody is waiting for something, but Cersei alone is waiting for something wholly different. The juxtaposition of pianos with solo voices, again something new for GoT which always relied on more sombre tunes to make a point. But this was different, this was plot explosion(pun intended) of epic proportions. And when the cellos and violins kick in finally, there is an unspoken urgency and you go ‘Oh shit!’ before, well, shit really does smack everybody in the face. The main GoT theme makes a triumphant return here (shrouded in an organ, albeit) and you finally do realize that when you play the game of thrones, you live, or you die.

I applaud Ramin for this spectacular new theme which pretty well is gonna come very close to Rains of Castamere as far as ominous music goes. He took some brilliant risks and they paid off, big time.

 

 

Score Saturday: Mowgli Wins The Race – John Debney

The best 40 seconds of music you will listen today!! 🙂

When I recently saw The Jungle Book, I instantly noticed its beautiful and atmospheric music. Music forms a big part of magical films such as this and John Debney makes the best use of the opportunity to flesh out a score that sounds both original and befitting to the scale and imagination of the story.

The BAM! moment, though, came much later, towards the very end. Just before the end credits you have our little Mowgli racing his buddies against the jungle and winning, at last. The music that accompanies this whole parkour sequence is out of this world, to say the least. John uses the Indian tabla rhythms to the best effect, adding that tropical flavor. But one can also not forget those superimposing violins, cellos and even French horns to boot!

Grand and nostalgic, this one!

(But why, god, why, is this only 40 seconds long!!!) Gotta spam that Loop button. 

Score Saturday: I’m Back, Lucious – The Village – James Newton Howard

No matter what the naysayers say, I still believe that Night Shyamalan’s The Village is one damn beautiful film, and which affected me on multiple levels. Yes, it probably was marketed wrongly as a horror/thriller, but once you see through the outer cover what remains is a poignant tale of innocence and love and charm. While the cinematography and acting were absolutely top-notch, the best thing about this film is its score!

The Village wouldn’t be the film it is without James Newton Howard’s mind-blowing cello/violin harmonies. It’s the soul of the film and stayed with me for a much longer time. While I can have the entire score of the film playing in the background when I need some musical drift, the piece below from the End Credits best sums up all the main motifs.

My favourite part: From 5:39 onwards….

 

Score Saturday: Divenire -Ludovico Einaudi

There are a few moments in your life when you want to feel completely encapsulated by music. To take you away from here into a far far land, a land of bliss. Someplace that allows you to peer deep inside your heart.

Ludovico had only been a very recent discovery of mine, thanks to a friend. But boy, the music he makes is out of this universe! And I’m left wondering, where has he been all my life!!

Hard to pick a favourite, but this is what I was listening to today.

Score Saturday: Joy Turns to Sadness – Inside Out – Michael Giacchino

I don’t really enjoy admitting to people that I can become an emotional mess when I watch something like the finale of Inside Out, but it’s true and it has happened. And we’ll never talk about that again 😉

If I may even say so, I think I’m gonna miss Chennai as much as Riley missed Minnesota. And this Giacchino guy knows how to push the right buttons  to bring you over the edge.

The music that starts when Sadness takes over Riley’s memories (skip to 1:36)  is really beautiful and actually reminded me a lot of LOST. Those bare piano notes sound so desolate, like one’s hanging onto a thin thread of hope, before things change for the better.

Score Saturday: Evacuating London – Narnia

I read the Chronicles of Narnia after I’d seen the films. Right after Prince Caspian to be exact. So my introduction to this magical series started off with the scene of a train chugging along gorgeous British landscape. Remember? The very first scene, where the Pevensie children get evacuated from London to the countryside.

In terms of the music, I consider this to be the main theme of the series. When you listen to it, just notice how it transitions from being a little gloomy at first to an almost innocent sounding middle and then moving on to an epic crescendo.

Score Saturday: Welcome To Jurassic Park – John Williams

Well long before Harry Potter, John Williams poured life into many a films with his signature epic scores. And Jurassic Park will always be special because it is one of the first Hollywood films I’ve seen, on HBO or Star Movies, huddled under a blanket at night. At that young age, it was of course the spectacle and the intrigue that drew me to it.

But even today, I still think it is one of the better movies to have come out of the decade. Steven Spielberg does the unthinkable, and John Williams’ score is simply out of the world.