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Arthur Christmas
  • Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams
  • Madison Gate Records / 2011 / 46:54

A 3D CGI animation from Aardman, creators of the fabulous Wallace and Gromit series, Arthur Christmas tells the presumably-true tales of adventure of Father Christmas’s son, Arthur.  It’s got a fantastic cast (Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Hugh Laurie… Michael Palin!) and generally favourable reviews for its warm-hearted, innocent nature.  Providing the music is Harry Gregson-Williams, whose recent output hasn’t exactly been inspired.  Fortunately, Arthur Christmas is certainly inspired… inspired in places by Danny Elfman and David Arnold, but most of all inspired by the film’s sense of fun and its comedy.  A little like another 2011 score for an animation, Henry Jackman’s Puss in Boots, it has little to offer in the way of originality but absolutely loads to offer in entertainment value.

The pastiche here comes in the form of obvious and enjoyable nods to Edward Scissorhands and, in much of the action music, to David Arnold’s Bond scores.  (Noteworthy, perhaps, that this is the first time I can remember a Bond music pastiche being of David Arnold’s style and not John Barry’s.)  There is, however, no direct lifting going on and indeed most of the score is pure Gregson-Williams.  Throughout, he injects a real sense of magic – there are big themes, there’s a big orchestra, there’s an obvious big smile on the faces of everyone involved in its production which inevitably finds its way onto the listener.  It’s hard to imagine anyone not being won over by its charms – a little like Randy Newman’s Pixar scores, there’s nothing here to dislike – it’s well-composed music, perhaps not with the spectacular clarity of orchestration that Newman offers, but the inherent goodness of it all is a joy to behold.  Direct Christmas references are few and far between – this is not one of those Christmas scores which people will only listen to during December – but it’s well and truly a Christmas cracker.  ****

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  1. orion_mk3 on Friday 16 December, 2011 at 00:14

    Hard to believe that Gregson-Williams was apparently a last-minute replacement for Michael Giacchino!

  2. Mastadge on Friday 16 December, 2011 at 11:20

    Yeah, this was one of those 4-week hiring-to-recording scores, I think.

    Anyway. I don’t really respond to this. It’s certainly competently enough done and nowhere near as dull as Cowboys and Aliens, but listening to it I’m neither thrilled by the action nor warmed by the Christmas-y feeling. I’ve listened to it a few times, and it just . . . supplies some not-objectionable background noise and then is quickly forgotten,