Customer Review

39 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps You've Missed the Point (with update), July 14, 2011
This review is from: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Audio CD)
I'm quite surprised by the negative reactions to Alexandre Desplat's splendid score for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2." The general consensus is that the score isn't big enough, loud enough, epic enough for this, the final film in the series. Hard to say, given that none of us has actually seen it yet. But I for one am thrilled that Desplat has written nothing like the typical action picture score, all cacophony and bluster. Scores like Howard Shore's for "The Two Towers" or pretty much anything that Hans Zimmer puts his name to bore the pants off me. Not that those scores don't work when you're actually watching them in a theater, but a CD (or MP3) soundtrack is a home listening experience, and as that, I find this latest Harry Potter score extremely successful.

Desplat ratchets up the excitement when he needs to, as in the tracks "The Tunnel" and "Underworld." And "Battlefield," "Broomsticks and Fire" and "Showdown" are all as dramatic as their titles would suggest. But the series (both the books and the films) has never been about action as much as the intimate, personal relationships between the characters; and it's in the quiet moments that Desplat excels. By all accounts, the scene revealing Snape's true nature is the emotional core of this last film, and Desplat has written a gorgeous piece of music to accompany it, full of longing and heartbreak. "Harry Surrenders" and "Procession" are suitably suspenseful and solemn, given what is happening in the story. "Diadem" is mysterious, "A New Beginning" full of the elegiac tone with which JK Rowling herself ended it all. (Of course, we will have to see if this track truly accompanies the film's epilogue.) I'm pleased with the way that Desplat has weaved some of his themes from the film's first half into this one, particularly how "Obliviate" shows up in "Harry's Sacrifice" and the theme for Harry's friends (heard at the top of "Polyjuice Potion") appears in "Neville."

A minor quibble: as lovely and haunting as "Lily's Theme" is, I wonder why it's used again in "Dragon Flight," this time anthemic and soaring. It sounds great, but I'm not sure what Desplat means by evoking Lily at that point. It makes more sense when the theme reappears later in "The Resurrection Stone," but is it about Lily, flying or a horcrux?

As for another reviewer's condemnation of Desplat for not using "Hedwig's Theme" enough: By my estimation he has used it more than any of his post-Williams predecessors, and to brilliant effect. Any musician/composer will tell you that there are subtle variations of the theme all through the last two HP soundtracks, and Desplat's frequent use of it outright shows his true respect and admiration for Williams (as he has often stated). I do find it curious that the theme is not the last thing one hears on this soundtrack, but it may very well be the last we as fans will hear in theaters as the final credits roll. Personally, I hope so.

Fans of the series can thank Warner Brothers and, for the last four films, David Yates for never taking the easy, generic way out. The films have evolved exactly as they should, in my opinion, and so have the soundtracks. Williams, Hooper and Desplat (and to a lesser extent Patrick Doyle, whose "Goblet" score is my least favorite) have all understood that music is what gives a film texture, what creates our clearest emotional link to what we're seeing. I will reserve final judgment until I actually see "HP7.2" tonight, but trust that this score is the right one for this film.

UPDATE: Saw the film last night, and it's superb, an amazing feat of filmmaking. There are the usual issues of what's been left out -- and it's quite a bit -- and some will have trouble with the climactic wand fight; still, I can't imagine a better adaptation. But, as this isn't a film review, I'll move on. The soundtrack works beautifully, as I suspected, and diehard HP fans will be over the moon at how the film -- and therefore the series -- ends musically. If you don't have a significant lump in your throat at the final fade out, then maybe you really HAVE missed the point all along! :)
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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 14, 2011 12:36:23 PM PDT
Thanks, David, for your thorough and succint review - I take it you are a musician as well?

Brief side note: I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Shore's Lord of the Rings scores, and don't believe I will ever hear another score to rival them, but that is because Shore is an expert at using leitmotif without being cheesy about it :)

One comment I've been dying to make to those complaining about a lack of Hedwig's Theme in Desplat's score: umm, folks? Hedwig DIED at the beginning of the seventh book/movie. If there's ever a reason to stop using the theme, that's it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2011 11:16:19 AM PDT
DG says:
I see what you're saying, but Hedwig's Theme wasn't just there to evoke the character of Hedwig, it became a central theme of the series itself, as well as the character of Harry (who is very closely tied to Hedwig). I LOVED the use of the original themes that were worked into the score presented on screen.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2011 11:35:54 AM PDT
David Cady says:
I remember my surprise when I saw -- on the "Prisoner of Azkaban" album, I think -- that what I had always assumed was Harry's theme was instead Hedwig's. I agree that it has taken on meaning beyond its association with Hedwig. But then I'd never assumed it was about her in the first place!

Posted on Jul 16, 2011 5:53:33 PM PDT
L.DT, says:
Its an excellent soundtrack, my only complaint with the CD is the entire end credits suite (including Hedwigs theme) being left off the Disc. I am pretty sure all the previous soundtracks included the end credits suite music. so its kind of agravating that end credits music as heard in the film is not included on this release.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2011 5:58:12 PM PDT
DG says:
There are several previous soundtracks that didn't include the end credits music, or that included it as separate tracks throughout the recording, but I agree that the Williams and Hooper cues they used would have been very nice to include on this soundtrack.

Posted on Jul 18, 2011 9:19:03 PM PDT
R S says:
In the movie, I thought it was quite nice how Desplat used the "B" portion of Hedwig's Theme in its full form, and not only once but twice. This was the first time the theme was heard since the third movie.

Posted on Jul 18, 2011 10:03:04 PM PDT
elixxxer says:
Comparing Shore's work for LOTR (a series of movies that has no fan in me) in any capacity to Desplat's Harry Potter is tantamount to blasphemy.

It's also interesting that you do not like Zimmer because much of this score, specifically the action sequences, sounds far too much like his studio's output.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 18, 2011 10:42:06 PM PDT
David Cady says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 6:25:39 AM PDT
Sarah Jean says:
Wonderful review, thank you--I would like to mention that at the end of the movie, you hear John Williams, pure and simple. They finish with a gorgeous score from the first/second movie. Very moving!

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 5:31:23 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 3, 2011 7:17:15 AM PDT
G.T. says:
Great review! I sometimes feel alone in my desire to hear echoes of Williams' original work in these films. I'm personally glad that Williams did not continue to write for the later films as I'm not sure he could have written appropriate themes to match the darker, more sinister and macabre moods of the later films (the music must match the visual texture!). I do, however, agree that the inclusion of his work in all the subsequent films is not only appropriate, but absolutely necessary. My favorite piece in all the films is "Harry's Wonderous World," and I wish that would have made it into this last soundtrack in some way at the end. I noticed that the score for the closing scene in the movie is very similar to the track from Sorcerer's Stone called "Leaving Hogwarts." I've added it to the end of my DH2 playlist, and it works perfectly!
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