I’ll be completely honest with you all…I’m not a huge fan of Harry Gregson-Williams. His film scores just generally seem pretty lackluster to me. That being said, I’ve owned this score for a long time and never paid much attention to it, expecting myself to dislike it. But guess what? I really enjoyed it!
The first two tracks aren’t anything special, though “Evacuating London” has a wonderfully mellow piano solo, a nice groove with orchestral accompaniment, and a few cool small hints to the upcoming main theme (listen to “To Aslan’s Camp”). Gregson-Williams’ score really starts to get interesting around the third track, “The Wardrobe”, which first introduces us to Narnia. Everything is completely different now: this new world is represented with a score that is truly other-worldly, and I don’t mean in an extra-terrestrial way. The primary instruments switch from strings to flute-like and stringed instruments with unique timbres that really help you to envision the strangeness and wonder of this new place.
One of the things that HGW does really well in this score is integrate choral elements, especially in “A Narnia Lullaby”, “From Western Woods to Beaversdam”, and “Only the Beginning of the Adventure”. The voices fit in really well this idea of harmony between the creatures (discounting the White Witch and her gang, of course) and with a unity between the children and the other members of Aslan’s forces.
I do have a few issues with this score. Though “The White Witch” is malicious enough, I think that HGW could have better embodied the cold nature of the witch. For example, the usage of eerie high strings and using the dissonance in a different way could have really made it better, in my opinion. Also, several of the themes, though awesome alone, were WAY overused, like the melody heard in “Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus”. This line of music is incredibly beautiful, but it’s repeated forever and ever (amen) throughout the entirety of the track’s four minutes, and this isn’t the only melody that repeats like this; the main theme heard in “To Aslan’s Camp” is used over and over again throughout the entire score, albeit sometimes with different instrumentation or in a different mode or rhythm.
And I have to point it out: while listening, I heard what I swear was the main theme from Gregson-Williams’ later score, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but I can’t for the life of me find it at the moment…you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Despite its faults, Harry Gregson-Williams’ to this first installment in the Chronicles of Narnia film series is pretty excellent…a pleasant surprise to me, since I wanted so badly to dislike it. Instead, tracks like the mysterious “The Wardrobe”, “To Aslan’s Camp”, and “The Battle” left me wishing that the soundtrack wasn’t so short. The short length doesn’t take away from the fantasy presented in this score, though, so check it out!
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
- “The Blitz, 1940” – 2:32
- “Evacuating London” – 3:38
- “The Wardrobe” – 2:54
- “Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus” – 4:10
- “A Narnia Lullaby” – 1:12
- “The White Witch” – 5:30
- “From Western Woods to Beaversdam” – 3:34
- “Father Christmas” – 3:20
- “To Aslan’s Camp” – 3:12
- “Knighting Peter” – 3:48
- “The Stone Table” – 8:06
- “The Battle” – 7:08
- “Only the Beginning of the Adventure” – 5:32
- “Can’t Take It In” (Imogen Heap) – 4:42
- “Wunderkind” (Alanis Morissette) – 5:19
- “Winter Light” (Tim Finn) – 4:13
- “Where” (Lisbeth Scott) – 1:54
Total Length – app. 71 min.