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  Comments about: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Nicholas Hooper)
 • Posted by: GK
• Date: Wednesday, July 22, 2009, at 6:09 p.m.
• IP Address: pd9e5fbcd.dip.t-dialin.net
• In Response to: Some interesting things about this score (Dan McDevitt)

  Re: Some interesting things about this score


Allow me to only quote the key parts of your lengthy post, ok?

> 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)

I thought exactly the same while watching it. The musical placements completely out of the blue had me thinking immediately, before I read the news, that Hooper won't come back.
However, given how the end credits piece starts, in a VERY delicate manner, and it was Yates' order, or anybody else's, to put the Fireworks track in there, then that someone certainly didn't have musical sensibilities as well, since it really drove the audience out of the theatre for its complete lack of reflective qualities.

> 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.

I assume you mean "Dumbledore's Army" over the tryouts.
And I wonder, there is Umbridge's theme in "Living Death" - why? Lack of ideas?

> There doesn't appear to be anything on the album that it replaced, though.

Not trying to constantly clubb Hooper in the neck, really, but it speaks entire libraries about his sensibilities for theatrical movies that he left things like this completely unscored (if he indeed wrote nothing for it, which the album indicates).

> 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'll throw something wild out there.
Surely, it is my own perception of the movie, but there are some others that agree with me on the harsh level of criticism: I actually think that the score is not only dull, unaffecting and completely out of place, it also sounds as if someone had stuck the worst tracks of a rejected score into the film.
And I think it affects the film in as much as it makes it worse.
And I truly see potential in there that could have lead, amongst other things I'm sure, to the delay of the film.

I mean, THINK about it for a minute: here you have a big picture, that was supposedly wrapped up and ready to go in time for its November release, meaning that the additional music from Order of the Phoenix was already in place. And now, purely for business reasons, the picture is moved for half a year. Wouldn't you think that these few scenes, which couldn't be completed - supposedly - for time restrictions or very serious re-edits, would have been rescored in these six months?

This is either a) a tremendously poor testament of the executives' musical judgement and care, or b) indication that trouble with Hooper was big.

> 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 don't think that qualifies as a "theme", and not merely because it's a variant, yet again, on Hedwig's theme, only this time played more tenderly; you see, a theme, that is, purely by definition, something specific and characteristic, and recognisable.
Hooper's harp/guitar tingling is anything but specific. It sticks out like that only because the orchestrations are so extremely dire.
It suffers from the same illness as Remote Control themes (and no, I'm NOT impying *stylistic* parallels, but structural ones) - they don't survive once your rip them out of their specific surrounding.

> 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.

And exactly here lies the problem.
You can treat the films like character studies, sure. It only will never completely work because that is not what those stories are.
They are epic, partly fairy tale, partly drama, a good dose of romance, but they are not great in examining characters.
The books can do that to some extent, since they allow for a completely different experience.
A movie can go into those character details because the necessity of driving the story forward will always allow for enough action to never make the film boring.
But music needs to be written for the film, and not for the book. And the movies are, by the very nature of their source, big, grand, and epic.
Scores for such films simply have a lot more duties than underscoring dialogue.

Hooper may excel at scoring, say, a Sherlock Holmes story. But not Harry Potter.

I mean, I just thought about the magnitude of this the other day ... Just look at the tremendous opportunity for this guy!
Here you are, a television composer. And all of a sudden, you are signed to score maybe the hottest movie series today, and you are given not only a world chock full of characters, drama, places and first rate imagery for inspiration, but also a sack full of tested and approved, even famous, music by the most decorated film composer of the past 50 years to work with.
And then you come up with ... this? Surely not?

> 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.

Like I said, the problem with Hooper already lies in his whole approach. Williams' music is inherently the polar opposite.

I am just trying not to say what I have on my mind the whole time, that Williams simply is three times the composer Hooper is. It may sound rude. Saying it straight like that probably *is* rude.
But then, Hooper caused quite some dissapointment, so not to be honest wouldn't be appropriate.

Compared to his earlier works, John Williams certainly isn't on that same level anymore, but, honestly, given the extraterrestrial niveau he delivered until well into the 90s couldn't last forever. The man is almost 80. I feel blessed that John Williams is still working.
And even on the niveau of Crystal Skull, which I enjoyed immensely by the way (score, not film), he is still better than 90% of all the others.
In what he does, he is still unmatched.
His music has an inherent ease to it, there is nothing that seems forced.

The thoughts of the producer summed up in one sentence: Williams couldn't write such crap if he tried.

And by the way, everyone against Williams should ask himself what Hooper's, as well as Doyle's scores would have sounded like if they hadn't had Williams' scores as a template.
Would Hedwig's Theme, the way Doyle used it (assuming for a second he would have come up with it in the first place), with the generic strings and the harmonisation, have become as famous as it is now?
Of Hooper's criminally underdeveloped use I don't even speak.

The point is, Hedwig's Theme would have never become so well-known and popular, had it received the pedestrian treatments of Doyle or Hooper.
Even in Doyle's surrounding of all new material, and even more so in Hooper's, Hedwig's Theme leaves the distinct impression of being more important than the others.

That distinguishes Williams from others: the knack for long-term memorability.

> 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.

Um, who ignored Hedwig's Theme? It's more present in HBP that in PoA.







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