The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
Walt Disney Records, 2005
REVIEW BY: JB
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/17/2006
The books and movie are considered controversial for their use of indigenous mythic images of the British Isles in presenting Christian allegory, but you'll be glad the soundtrack does the same thing by bridging modern orchestral sensibilities to ancient melodic themes. Some critics complain about the music being a little too modern, unfavorably comparing it to the meticulously researched and constructed score for the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, but this critic thinks it has a place on the shelves of many music lovers who balk at Wagner and are attuned to more visceral melodies and faster pacing.
Music has always been important in Disney movies, providing a crucial dimension to their trademark "family magic" in each of their wide-release movies. The score, composed by Harry Gregson-Williams (The Tigger Movie, Shrek... wait a minute, Shrek had a score?), deftly guides the theatergoer through the emotional changes of the on screen characters, such as Lucy's surprise and fear upon meeting a faun into wonder and friendliness in "Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus" and the several strategic and emotional perspectives of the battle scene in "The Battle."
The music not only complements the action but is vital to it, as the movie adaptation accelerates the plot found in the book, and the changes need to seem genuine and not rushed (despite its length, the movie version of Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire sped through the plot like a summarized version of itself). Part of what makes this movie successful in that regard is the subtle, evocative score.
The album, however, is ruined by the obligatory pop tracks at the end of the album, ostensibly included to aid in the cross-platform promotion of this whole franchise, but I don't think you'll see Alanis Morissette's out-of-my-element "Wunderkind" on MTV a lot this season. Imogen Heap's tedious mess of a song is bland and forgettable, and the presence of Tim Finn's depressing "Winter Light" is inexplicable; I thought they threw out Evanescence's contribution for this project because it was too dark. There's a bonus track called "Where" by Lisbeth Scott which is slightly more tolerable, but most listeners probably gave up by the time they got to it.
But not only does the soundtrack work well on screen, it's a good standalone album to keep at home. The problem with many soundtracks is that they're boring to listen to, but Narnia has enough texture to be used as good, relaxing background music. Keep it next to the latest Enya.