Thursday, May 22, 2008

Music in movies

I saw Prince Caspian tonight. It was a good movie - better, in my opinion, than the first in the series in terms of the quality of the filmmaking. With one major exception.

The score.

The vast majority of the score was direct reuse of cues from the first movie.

I very much enjoyed Harry Gregson-Williams' work on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Kingdom of Heaven. Even his work on Shrek was good. But this bothered me immensely on a number of levels.

As a composer myself, I understand both the difficulty of developing one's previously written music in new directions - and how utterly essential it is if one is to maintain any artistic momentum (or indeed a sense of artistic integrity). The work here was closer to "cut and paste" than to innovation. A few times, it was direct replaying of cues from the first movie.

I don't know the circumstances behind the music's being that way. I do know that if I as a composer did not have the time to devote to creating a work of excellence, I wouldn't take a project.

At the root of my problem with this score is that I simply do not understand how he could have made this choice. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but as with a few other composers before him (James Horner, I'm looking at you), I have to say that for right now, Harry Gregson-Williams is not going to be getting any of my money on his soundtracks.

There is a call in this life to do all things in a way that honors God. In the world of composing, as everywhere else, that means putting forth a great deal of hard work. In the creative world, "innovative" may not always be best: but new in the sense of not having been done before in particular is. If it is but a rehash of what has already been done - a direct rehash, not a development of that which came before - I think it better left undone.

The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Which is too bad, because I loved the movie.

Tomorrow, I hope to have a more theologically minded post.

For now, good night!

- Chris

A postscript: I think I was the more frustrated with this because the few moments that Gregson-Williams included that were new cues were breathtaking. The comparison with the rest of the score made it that much the weaker.


  1. Maybe a near-future blog might provide a little bit more about the movie itself rather than just where you feel the score might have fallen short. I would venture that 98% of people seeing the movie probably won't notice much about the scoring until they have seen the movie more than once. ;)

  2. Here's a question... what did you think of the Regina Spektor song at the end of the film? I think it's a beautiful piece, but I'm not sure it fit.


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