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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Regular CD

Limited Edition

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Harry Gregson-Williams

Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler
Ladd McIntosh
Walter Fowler
Suzette Moriarty
Rick Giovinazzo

Vocals by:
Lisbeth Scott

Walt Disney Records

Release Date:
December 13th, 2005

Also See:
Kingdom of Heaven
LOTR: Return of the King

Audio Clips:
1. The Blitz, 1940 (0:29):
WMA (188K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

2. Evacuating London (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

9. To Aslan's Camp (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

12. The Battle (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Several different releases exist. A song compilation was released a month before two simultaneous score releases. The regular score CD and the 'Limited Edition' contain the same 17 tracks of music. For a few extra dollars, the 'Limited Edition' album includes several extras (read more about them below).

  The song "Wunderkind" and the score were nominated for Golden Globes. The song "Can't Take It In" and the score were nominated for Grammy Awards.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
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Sales Rank: 225814

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Buy it... if you have a very open mind to Harry Gregson-Williams' significantly modern and genre-bending interpretation of a classic religious allegory.

Avoid it... if Howard Shore's straight-laced epic scores for the J.R.R. Tolkien universe shaped your expectations for C.S. Lewis' largely similar universe.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: (Harry Gregson-Williams) The author of the Chronicles of Narnia books, C.S. Lewis, said very publicly in 1959 that he did not want his books to ever be made into films, because the talking animals would "turn into buffoonery or nightmare." Hollywood has since changed all that, of course, and in light of the recent overwhelming success of Peter Jackson's realization of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings stories, an adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia was shortly inevitable. The first entry of the series on screen, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is brought to life by Shrek director Andrew Adamson, and while the production values of this C.S. Lewis adaptation clearly had The Lord of the Rings in its sights, it's achieved only a lower step of (still financially huge) success. Like Tolkien's tales, The Chronicles of Narnia are religious allegories, and the similarities between their universes, and the friendship between the two authors themselves, begs for a comparison between the two eventual adaptations to the big screen. Lewis and Tolkien taught at Oxford together, frequented the same pub, and exchanged their serious thoughts on Christianity... all while smoking pipes and debating each other's fictional universes. The setting of one was Middle Earth and the other was Britain during the Second World War, but the overarching ideas for the stories, as well as their fantasy environments, were remarkably the same. This sharing of inspiration would make the job for Adamson even more difficult, because Jackson had very obviously hit the nail right on the head with the Tolkien films. The same would apply to composer Harry Gregson-Williams, whose work for the genre would compete with Howard Shore's highly acclaimed efforts for The Lord of the Rings as well. Add to this pressure the usual pop-culture injections by Disney, and you get a dangerously untenable position for Adamson and Gregson-Williams to negotiate. Unfortunately, the haphazard result of all these disjointed ideas is a score that would make the proper C.S. Lewis cringe.

What is made blindingly evident from the very opening of the score for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is that one or more of the involved parties (Disney, Adamson, or Gregson-Williams) made a conscious choice to move away from Howard Shore's already tried and tested sound for the similar Tolkien stories. Gregson-Williams, being a man of immensely diverse talents, was therefore able to insert a plethora of different world sounds into the score while still giving in to the necessary bombast of the kind that Shore had provided. Shades of Gregson-Williams' Media Ventures days shine through in the first half of the score, with distinctly modern synthetic elements providing theme, rhythm, and depth to an otherwise orchestral underscore. As with his previous successes, Gregson-Williams works with a decent ensemble; the 75-piece Hollywood Studio Symphony is accompanied by a whopping 140-voice choir in London, a separately recorded percussion section, the usual vocals of partner Lisbeth Scott, and an array of synthesizers. With the musical scope of the 125-minute score wandering seemingly without clear direction through different genres, it's possible that the hectic recording process disrupted in later sessions by post-production special effects led to some degeneration on the finished product. The reason for this speculation is that the music for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, while reaching spectacular heights of orchestral majesty in its concluding cues, lacks focus and consistent imagination. Specific effects, such as the airplane engine sounds in the opening "Blitz, 1940" cue, are truly interesting, but the pounding simplicity of the Media Ventures sound that sets the rhythm in that cue is sadly lacking any British or historical sensibility that Lewis would have had in mind. Likewise, the "Evacuating London" cue, with its Mediterranean-stylized rhythm and vocals, is so remarkably out of place in the story that someone --whether it's Gregson-Williams, Adamson, or a studio producer-- should be flogged. Failing to meet audience expectations is one thing, but totally disregarding the historical setting and character demands of the story is simply unacceptable.

The fact that the music's most genre-bending elements occur before the wardrobe is even encountered is cause enough for some considerable head-scratching. The electric violin in "Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus" is awkward, but serviceable in its background application. Where Gregson-Williams' score beings to take flight is when he introduces the themes for Narnia, Aslan, and the Witch, running with several fully rendered statements of those themes throughout the second half of the score. In the closing battle sequences, the symphony pulls you into the world that Shore and Jackson created despite the electronic accompaniment in rhythm, and ironically, only then does Gregson-Williams' score truly succeed. In several of the cues that exist in between "vista statements" (the defining moments for scores like these), Gregson-Williams's music meanders without much spark or life, leaving you wondering what kind of wondrous universe would be occupied by such a drab environment. As correctly stated by other reviewers, Gregson-Williams' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has the tendency for underachievement in its overall sound, leaving you wanting more. One problem with the recording is its unfortunate mixing. In two of Gregson-Williams' previous outstanding efforts, the mix wasn't an issue: in Sinbad, a close mix throughout caused a good balance between rhythmic elements (mainly percussion), choir, and orchestra, and in Kingdom of Heaven, the same massive choir was balanced well with the orchestra for a more wet, epic sound. The difficulty with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is that the orchestra is badly undermixed (or undersized, if you just want to go that direction with it, but more likely undermixed). Take "The Battle," for instance... At its height, you have all the elements working at once. The choir is full, ethereal, and slightly echoing with a satisfying wet sound (closer than anything to Shore's somewhat controversial mixing for the Tolkien music), but the synthetic rhythm and percussion rips/snaps are in your face, mixed to the forefront so that the choir is stripped of its flowing majesty. Almost completely lost are the steadily performing strings, often chopping uselessly in the far background. Only occasional brass accents reach around the percussion to attention. Overall, while enjoyable, even this cue is evidence of poor mixing choices.

Regular Album:
Only $9.99
So when you hear complaints that Gregson-Williams' music for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is not "magical," you have to take a hard look at lousy instrumentation choices and a poor mix as being the culprits. The themes are there, the ensemble seemed ready, and Gregson-Williams has proven himself as an outstanding composer in recent years. And to be absolutely clear, there are snippets of this score that will impress you with their momentary brilliance of harmonic resonance. Melody and harmony abound, and for this alone, the score makes for an easily listenable album. But the music's effectiveness for you will hinge on your feelings of modern, synthesized music in this particular C.S. Lewis universe. For those of you who read the stories as children and understand the religious allegories at work, Gregson-Williams' score is going to be a stretch. On the other hand, if you enjoy vivacious, modern scores without genre boundaries, then it could easily be a riot for you. It wouldn't be surprising to see Gregson-Williams earn himself an Academy Award nomination for his efforts here, though given that this score hasn't seemed to bring both film score collectors and average movie-goers together with the kind of universal appeal that Shore's music for The Lord of the Rings created, Gregson-Williams' success at the awards ceremonies will likely be tied to the fate of the film. Overall, the studio probably had some hand in this disappointment, with the songs at the end of the album serving as atrocious reminders of what happens when you take a perfectly good traditional fantasy film and "popify it." After only 55 minutes of score, the songs are a disgrace to this album, despite the fact that Gregson-Williams foreshadows them with some of his own "popification" in preceding cues. If you thought Annie Lennox's voice was to harsh to represent Middle Earth, then wait until you hear Alanis Morissette belt out her classless pronunciation of "Wunderkind." Even the concluding song by Gregson-Williams and Lisbeth Scott has a souring effect. A "limited edition" album version contains no additional music, and beware of the obligatory song compilation album. In the end, you can't help but get the feeling that this entire musical project got derailed somewhere in the creative process. Sometimes, you really do have to take expectations of the masses into account, because if you stray too far from those expectations, you end up with a score like this: an experiment with some bright moments, but one ultimately gone wrong. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Harry Gregson-Williams reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.94 (in 32 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.01 (in 50,728 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.28 Stars
Smart Average: 3.2 Stars*
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    * Smart Average only includes
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   FVSR Reviews The First Narnia Film
  Brendan Cochran -- 3/23/15 (12:27 a.m.)
   Not exactly a masterpiece, but still a grea...
  LordoftheFuture -- 11/13/12 (7:36 a.m.)
   3 star is to low for this awesome scores
  Elstein -- 8/10/11 (12:26 p.m.)
   the Battle track is freaking amazing!
  mike -- 8/11/10 (5:29 p.m.)
   To: Nicolas Rodriguez Quiles (a.k.a. "...
  The Anti-Nicolas Rodri... -- 4/13/09 (1:10 p.m.)
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 Track Listings (All Score Albums): Total Time: 74:27

• 1. The Blitz, 1940 (2:32)
• 2. Evacuating London (3:38)
• 3. The Wardrobe (2:54)
• 4. Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus (4:10)
• 5. A Narnia Lullaby (1:12)
• 6. The White Witch (5:30)
• 7. From Western Woods to Beaversdam (3:34)
• 8. Father Christmas (3:20)
• 9. To Aslan's Camp (3:12)
• 10. Knighting Peter (3:48)
• 11. The Stone Table (8:06)
• 12. The Battle (7:08)
• 13. Only the Beginning of the Adventure (5:32)
• 14. Can't Take It In - performed by Imogen Heap (4:42)
• 15. Wunderkind - performed by Alanis Morissette (5:19)
• 16. Winter Light - performed by Tim Finn (4:13)
• 17. Where* - performed by Lisbeth Scott (1:56)

* bonus song not featured in film

 Notes and Quotes:  

The regular album's insert includes no extra information about the score or film. The 'Limited Edition' product includes a 40-page collectible souvenir booklet with film imagery and liner notes by director Andrew Adamson, as well as a 45-minute DVD with a 'Making of the Score' feature including an interview with Gregson-Williams, interviews with song performers, photo gallery from the production, and the film's original trailer.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are Copyright © 2005, Walt Disney Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/23/05 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2005-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.