Musician and film composer Grace Hancock is as at home with gritty, sci fi as she is with the Lion King, or a snappy jingle. We caught up with her to find out how she goes about making an ideal movie score[Read more…] about Grace Hancock: ‘Think of music as a visual thing’
The release of the Danny Elfman-scored Oz the Great and Powerful means now is the ideal time to do a retrospective on this brilliant composer – one of my personal favourites.
In this section I list my three greatest discoveries in the world of orchestral film scores.
2012 has come to an end and so I take a look back at the cinematic year.
Harper Lee’s only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird is still, 52 years after release, one of the most powerful evocations of childhood ever written. Capturing the transient nature of youthful innocence perfectly, it scooped the Pulitzer Prize for its incisive, cutting yet beautifully humane story, one which centres around a small-town lawyer named Atticus Finch who takes a controversial case defending a black man accused of rape. The narrative unspools through the eyes of his children, Jem and Scout, so adult scenarios take on a otherwordly feeling, with the growth to self-knowledge a slow, puzzling process.
The relationship between music and the moving image can be a contentious one, and for evidence of this, one need look no further than the tortured post-production on Alien.
Steven Spielberg had a banner year in 1993, receiving critical acclaim and Oscar glory for Holocaust drama Schindler’s List, and thrilling global audiences with the recreated dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Fundamental to both films’ success, but perhaps more overlooked in the hoopla, was composer John Williams.
Sadly neglected on release, Stephen Hopkins’ The Ghost and the Darkness is a rip-roaring (literally!) old-fashioned actioner. Despite underwhelming lead performances from Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas and a pervasive feeling of familiarity, the fact it is based on a true story is too astonishing to ignore.
From the first tinkling celesta strains of Hedwig’s Theme, one could be forgiven for thinking composer John Williams and director Alfonso Cuaron were headed down a well-trodden path with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. But the unexpected left-field turns that follow elevate both film and score to one of the finest in the series.
Way back in 1981, maestro composer John Williams created yet another one of his timeless film themes. Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark was intended as a throwback to the 1930s film serials he and co-creator George Lucas had enjoyed growing up, and Williams’ score follows suit. Having made the Golden Age, Korngold sound fashionable again with Star Wars, Williams let rip with Raiders, composing a central theme (the Raiders March) that would define adventure in the years that followed. It’s impossible to envisage Harrison Ford’s weather-beaten hero Indiana Jones without also humming along to the theme.
Soul Surfer is based on the inspiring true story of Bethany Hamilton, a young surfer in Hawaii who lost her arm in a shark attack but who, against all odds, managed to get out in the water again. Sean McNamara’s film stars AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Bethany, with support from Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid as her parents. The film is also blessed with an outstanding musical score from Marco Beltrami, who offers up a beautiful celebration of Hawaiian culture, Bethany’s Christian faith and surfing itself.