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Some interesting things about this score
• Posted by: Dan McDevitt   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2009, at 10:41 a.m.
• IP Address:

By now you may or may not have heard, but Nicholas Hooper will not be back for Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows. In the piece I read, he said he had dropped off the project, saying it impinged on his life and family too much. While I'm sure that's true, a couple of things make me think there might actually be more two it than that.

In the Half-Blood Prince film, the scene at Fred and George's shop is covered with an exact reprise of "Fireworks" from "Order of the Phoenix." Curiously, this music doesn't appear on the soundtrack, but a different piece, "Wizard Wheezes," which was clearly written for this scene (it's the name of the shop) does. Why would the new piece (which is one of the memorable ones on the new score, really) be replaced by an old one by the man who composed it? Further, "Fireworks" appears again over the end credits, a wildly inappropriate placement of that music considering how dark things are when the movie ends. It smells like someone had issue with the music Hooper wrote and these changes were made because of that. (and I highly doubt it was David Yates)

Less significant I suppose is the appearance of "Room of Requirement" during the quidditch tryouts, which also doesn't appear on the score album. As noted in the review, bits of that piece appear in "Living Death", but it's a full-out reprise in the later scene. There doesn't appear to be anything on the album that it replaced, though. Still, in combination with the appearance of "Fireworks," I have to wonder if the studio or producers were dictating changes, and Hooper didn't want to work under those conditions. Or the studio decided they wanted someone else, or some combination thereof.

I think Hooper's music is quite good on its own and has some real beauty, but I agree that as the connective tissue for a film (series) this epic it lacks. There are no really memorable pieces on the Half-Blood Prince soundtrack (except possibly "Wizard Wheezes," as noted above.) The score for Order of the Phoenix had both the Umbridge and Room of Requirement/Dumbledore's Army themes, but this new score has virtually nothing that sticks with you like that. However, I do really like the love theme for Harry and Ginny and I hope the new composer sticks with it. It's very tender but tinged with sadness, which is precisely appropriate given the conditions under which their romance blossoms.

I blame this in part at least on David Yates, whose forté as a director is clearly the smaller, more emotional parts, and who hasn't yet shown any aptitude for anything that is epic or action-oriented. He continues to treat the Harry Potter films as small character studies and had Hooper write music to that effect. Read the liner notes of the album and you'll see what I mean. (in fairness, Yates' treatment is exactly why all the character development in this film is so well done. It just hurts in other areas.)

Producer David Heyman has stated they're trying to see if the schedules fits to get John Williams back for the two Deathly Hallows movies. I have some reservations about that. Having recently re-watched the first two movies, the music is really overdone. Some of that is no doubt attributable to Chris Columbus, but Williams to me has seemed past his prime for some time. His scores for "Revenge of the Sith" and "Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls" were pretty bad. The music for "Prisoner of Azkaban" was fantastic, but it also was a complete disconnect from the music from the prior two scores, and he mostly wrote it scene-to-scene rather than thematically (much like Hooper in that regard.)

I'd love to see Patrick Doyle back with the caveat that he does a better job incorporating Williams' key themes into the overall score. Whoever it is, they're going to have a heck of a task trying to put together something worthy of the final story. Most of important of all, they simply cannot continue to ignore "Hedwig's Theme," which remains the musical identity of the film series.

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