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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows soundtrack

1/12/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One soundtrack in the USA - or Buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One soundtrack in the UK

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat. pub: Sony B0046CUJ9U. 73 minute 26 track CD. Price: GBP 8.95 (UK).

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Despite the hype, it is important to listen to ‘Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part One’ as music first and a soundtrack second. Often we only notice music when it is unduly intrusive to our enjoyment of the film. This music has a double responsibility as it will be one of our lasting memories of an iconic series which will go down in movie history. The series of films has generated huge enjoyment for ten years and the anticipation for each instalment has been as great. The changing nature of the stories has seen a change in the music and now we reach a very dark and adult time for Harry Potter where there will be a war and the deaths of favourite characters. This means the music has to grow up with him. There is little time for the delightful original themes, produced by John Williams, for the more sedate first films. In some ways this is good, as the Williams scores were always going to be associated with his other successes such as ‘E.T’. There has been a chance to move this into the dark side since ‘Goblet Of Fire’ where the outside of Hogwarts begins to intrude more and more into the safety and stability of our three wizards.

Alexandre Desplat (‘Curious Case Of Benjamin Button’, ‘Golden Compass’, ‘New Moon’, and ‘The Ghost’) is fresh to the task and has to convey the serious nature of this penultimate instalment and follow it though to Part 2. This is a time of conflict and there are no fluffy bunnies to lighten the mood. Straightaway we hear the mournful tones of ‘The Oblivation’ which leads eventually to the building excitement of ‘The Polyjuice Potion’ and the drama of ‘The Sky Battle’. Much of this film takes place in the Muggle world which used to be a respite from the world of magic but now takes on its own menace.

‘Deathly Hallows’ is a measured piece which allows some time between the highs and lows. There will be a little frisson of excitement in each track and this forms a master class in how to use established musical shorthand to accentuate the mood of the film.

Overall, the formula is a recognized one and the original magical theme is occasionally reprised in the new 26 tracks. Remember this is only 73 minutes of a soundtrack that covers a film over 2 hours and 30 minutes long. There are moments of real drama and softer ones but I only began to warm to score after many repeat plays. Standout tracks include ‘The Locket’ which is very distinctive and builds to a suitably vivid conclusion followed breathlessly by the ‘Fireplace Escapes’ which gives a sense of jump cut editing. It also has elements of the ‘Flight Of The Bumble Bee’ about it. The piece for ‘Lovegood’ is also a delightful mood piece which grows on listening whereas the ‘Bathilda Bagshot’ episode is very dark and grim. ‘Ron Leaves’ also manages to convey loss with its use of the single cello on opening.

At its best, ‘The Deathly Hallows’ is a silent movie soundtrack with the orchestra interpreting all the action as seen on screen. I felt moved by several of the tracks even without having seen the film. This is to be enjoyed with headphones and chocolates or perhaps a steaming mug of hot butter beer. I’ve been immersed in this for a week am now sufficiently brainwashed to want to buy that cinema ticket.

Sue Davies

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