Sunday, July 17, 2011

Favorite Pieces from the Deathly Hallows: Part II Soundtrack

I'm waiting until I've seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II for a third time before I post my review, but for now here are my thoughts on the AMAZING soundtrack composed by Alexandre Desplat.

The Deathly Hallows: Part II soundtrack has 25 tracks, so I'm not going to talk about them all, just my favorites.

Beware of Spoilers Throughout

"Lily's Theme"

This piece of music is a perfect example of why I love a human voice and strings in a film's score. This plays during the very beginning of the film as we see shots of Snape at Hogwarts and oppressed students. One of the main things I've missed from the Potter films is Lily Potter. She is the reason Harry survived Voldemort's killing curse and she is a huge presence throughout the books. Despite her absence in the prior movies, she is very present in this film and that is mostly through the music. This beautiful female voice is heard all through the film. It plays during scenes about Harry and scenes about Snape. As much as those two hate each other, their mutual love for Lily ties them together.

"The Tunnel"

This piece plays as Harry, Ron, Bellatrix/Hermione, Griphook, and Bogrod travel into the depths of Gringotts on the twisty-turny track. I have to say, this scene made me a little dizzy the first time I saw and that wasn't even in 3D. The way it's shot suggests that the filmmakers were anticipating this to be one of the big 3D moments in the film, but the exciting and intense music prevents it from seeming gimmicky.

"Dragon Flight"

I love this song because it's the first piece of soaring (no pun intended), sweeping, and, dare I say, magical score. The first time I saw the film the moment at about 0:43 made me really excited to go home and listen to the soundtrack over and over again. This scene is the first sign of the action and excitement that is yet to come.

"Courtyard Apocalypse"

My favorite scene in the film is The Prince's Tale, but this is my favorite piece of music. It plays as Harry, Ron and Hermione fight their way through the castle and courtyard to get to Voldemort and Snape. At this point I had been crying for awhile, but this scene made me sob. Hogwarts is so much more than a school to so many of the characters and it was devastating to see it reduced to rubble and flames. This music is so epic and sad and the visuals are so scary and intense. The trio runs past so much destruction: Lavender Brown being killed by Fenrir Greyback, acromantulas, a giant wielding one of the rings from the Quidditch pitch, to name a few. I love this scene because it's a reminder that there are so many people fighting with Harry for the fate of the wizarding world. We all know how brave the trio and the members of the Order are, but there are hundreds more who are just as brave and willing to die for the cause. This song gives me chills.

"Snape's Demise"

I L-O-V-E how this piece of music begins with Hedwig's Theme. Harry and Snape's relationship is one of the most complicated relationships in the series. Snape's final act, giving Harry his memories, brings the two together. We also hear "Lily's Theme" again which is very fitting, of course.

"The Resurrection Stone"

When I listened to the soundtrack before I saw the film this is the piece of score that stood out to me. This is certainly one of the saddest parts of the film and one of the saddest pieces of music. Harry resurrects his parents, Sirius and Lupin and they walk with him as he walks to his death. So often in films the piece of score that plays right before a death has what I like to call "angel voices" meaning the score is accompanied by a high-pitched choral arrangement. The angel voices kick in right on cue at 1:15. Immediately after the angel voices we hear "Lily's Theme" again. See what I mean about her presence being throughout the film?


I would have to say this is the darkest piece of music, which is fitting because this is the darkest part of the film. The Death Eaters, led by Voldemort, victoriously proceed into the courtyard as Hagrid carries Harry's body. This song begins with a very ominous and sad version of "Lily's Theme." I like that "Lily's Theme" plays here because, though it's not mentioned in the film, Harry's sacrifice has protected everyone from harm, just as Lily's sacrifice protected Harry 16 years ago.

Now, the last song on the soundtrack is called "A New Beginning" but it is NOT the last song in the movie. The last song in the movie is called "Leaving Hogwarts."

"Leaving Hogwarts" plays at the end of the first film, Sorcerer's Stone, as Harry, Ron and Hermione board the Hogwarts Express. As the music reaches its peak at 1:49 the final image of the film appears: a beautiful shot of the train leaving Hogsmeade Station with Hagrid waving on the platform and Hogwarts in the background. Before Alexandre Desplat was confirmed as the composer for Deathly Hallows: Part II there were rumors that John Williams was going to return for the final film. As we hoped and prayed that Williams would return, my sisters and I talked about how amazing it would be if "Leaving Hogwarts" played during the epilogue. We never expected that to actually come true. Needless to say, when it started playing at the midnight premiere we lost our minds. In the book, there are many things that bring the story full-circle and the choice to play "Leaving Hogwarts" was a B-E-A-utiful way to bring the series to a close.

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