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The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
  • Composed by Howard Shore
  • E1 Entertainment E1E-CD-2313 / 2010 / 61:52

While (for now at least) no more books are on the horizon for the Twilight saga, the cash cow continues to be milked through the film adaptations.  The success of this franchise is incredible and has gone well beyond the original target audience of teenage girls.  At the time of writing this, the third film, Eclipse, has been in cinemas for less than a month but has already taken $300m at the box office.  This is despite the fact that, in common with the previous two films, you can seek out every review you can find but not manage to locate a particularly good word said about it.  The fact that most film critics are middle-aged men may of course have something to do with that, because these films clearly resonate with their Twi-hard audiences.

Unusually, each of the three films in the series so far has had a different director; and with that, a different composer.  Carter Burwell’s vaguely pop-based score for the first film has its fans, but seemed far too subtle to me; then Alexandre Desplat went to the other extreme for New Moon, with an opulent, romantic score which made for a wonderful CD but left many people scratching their heads wondering exactly what film he had written the music for, since it certainly didn’t seem to be New Moon.  Now, Howard Shore has stepped on board for his first big box office movie since The Return of the King in 2003.

Shore’s music is positioned somewhere in between Burwell’s and Desplat’s – a vague rock influence through electric guitars, but with some of Desplat’s romanticism too, albeit a much less lush version of it.  While it doesn’t make for quite such an engaging CD as its predecessor, it’s almost certainly the most appropriate musical accompaniment the Twilight saga has received so far.  The most obvious theme is “Bella’s Theme”, a beautiful piece for solo piano early on in the album, later heard in an orchestral setting in “The Kiss” and then even a vocal version, performed by the group Metric, for the second half of the finale, “Wedding Plans”.  It’s a relatively simple melody, but a very effective one.

Howard ShoreThe action music is generally dark and brooding, as would be expected from this composer.  But unlike some of his more recent scores, it isn’t so relentlessly bleak as to be completely unappealing on CD; “The Battle” in particular plays a bit like Lord of the Rings with electric guitars.  It doesn’t exactly set the pulse racing, but it’s effective enough and I imagine there will be quite a lot of people rather pleased to hear Shore returning to this sound world.

The album isn’t an unqualified success – I’d guess that around a third of its hour-long running time is made up of music which frankly isn’t doing much at all and needn’t be there – but it contains more than enough of interest to warrant taking a look.  The final book of the saga, Breaking Dawn, is being made as two separate films, with another different director – since that director is Bill Condon, one presumes that Carter Burwell will probably come back to musically conclude the saga he began (since Condon has worked with Burwell in the past) but if not, I hope Shore gets to carry on because he has some ideas in this score which are worthy of further exploration.  ***

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  1. Mastadge (Reply) on Friday 6 August, 2010 at 15:08

    This score bored me to sleep the first couple times I played it, but now I rather like it. I do wish the transition from the score to the song in the final track had been accompanied by a track change, as I’d like to be able to program the song out without doing any editing, but otherwise this is not too bad. Not as over-the-top lush and romantic as Desplat’s, but also not as long, and without some of the annoying synth throbbing that Desplat occasionally employs. And, with the exception you mentioned, this sounds less like Lord of the Rings than many of Shore’s other recent scores.