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Alice in Wonderland (2010) (Score)
|Price:||CDN$ 18.70 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details|
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|1. Alice's Theme|
|2. Little Alice|
|3. Proposal/Down The Hole|
|5. Drink Me|
|6. Into The Garden|
|7. Alice Reprise #1|
|9. Finding Absolem|
|10. Alice Reprise #2|
|11. The Cheshire Cat|
|12. Alice And Bayard's Journey|
|13. Alice Reprise #3|
|14. Alice Escapes|
|15. The White Queen|
|16. Only A Dream|
|17. The Dungeon|
|18. Alice Decides|
|19. Alice Reprise #4|
|20. Going To Battle|
See all 24 tracks on this disc
From Walt Disney Pictures and the vividly creative mind of award-winning director Tim Burton comes the original score to the highly anticipated feature film. The score from Alice In Wonderland, created by Burton's long time collaborator, Danny Elfman, musically lends a magical, whimsical and imaginative twist on one of the most beloved stories of all time
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Burton's take on the classic Lewis Carroll tale is an unusual one; he has explicitly stated that it is not a sequel, or a remake, or even a proper re-imagining, but instead takes all the familiar elements of the Alice story and churns them around into a curious new thing entirely. The film follows the adventures of young Alice Kingsleigh (newcomer Mia Wasikowska) a Victorian teenager who, after receiving an unwelcome marriage proposal, runs away; following a mysterious white rabbit, she accidentally falls down a rabbit hole and re-emerges in the magical land she visited as a child, although she has no memories of her adventures there years before. Through various encounters with the eccentric inhabitants of Wonderland, Alice discovers that since her departure the evil Queen of Hearts has usurped the crown and now rules wonderland with an iron fist, but fears Alice's return on account of a prophecy which says that Alice will slay the Jabberwocky, a giant dragon under the Red Queen's control, and in doing so will end her reign of terror. The visually overwhelming film, which was filmed in a combination of live action and 3-D animation, features a whole host of British and international acting talent in supporting roles, including Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat, Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar, and Michael Sheen as the White Rabbit.
Danny Elfman's writing style has altered considerably since he scored his very first film, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, in 1985. From his earliest days emulating his idols Nino Rota and Bernard Herrmann to his intellectual, pseudo-classical, occasionally minimalist recent work, over the years Elfman has grown into a "proper" composer of stature and technique, with an identifiable style and sound. Nevertheless, many consider his `golden period' to be the years between 1988 and 1995, beginning with Beetlejuice and ending roughly with Dolores Claiborne. Fans of his work often pine for these glory years of emotional themes, dark crescendos and fantastical whimsy, and although he has revisited the style briefly in a few scores here and there, Elfman has steadfastly moved away from his cooing choirs and twinkly orchestrations in favor of his new, more modernistic style. It is for this reason that Alice in Wonderland will be embraced wholeheartedly by his long-standing admirers, because it hearkens back completely to those wonderful scores of the late 1980s and early 1990s, more so than any other Elfman score in over a decade. It's a score replete with rich, lustrous melodies, moody minor-key chord progressions, magical orchestrations, innocently cooing boy's choirs, and even some thunderous action music that will make admirers of scores like Batman quiver in their pants.
Rather than take a multi-character leitmotif approach to the score (which composers on fantasy films often do), Elfman's three main themes are all for Alice: they represent her past, present and future, and intertwine throughout the length of the score, cleverly illustrating the story's central idea that Alice's long-forgotten history with Wonderland is influencing her present, and altering the course of its future. The main theme, heard in the opening "Alice Theme" is strong and memorable, with a driving rhythmic core, and a clipped, staccato vocal performance by a boy's choir. Performed by the full orchestra, with initial emphasis on lilting strings, the theme builds in scope and grandeur as it progresses, picking up a powerful brass section and booming percussion hits punctuated by Gothic pipe organ chords. The lyrics - apparently a last minute addition to the score by Elfman - are appropriately downbeat, and reflect further upon the film's themes of uncertainty, choice and fate: "How can you know this way not that? You choose the door you choose the path. Perhaps you should be coming back, another day, another day".
The second theme, for Alice's past, actually forms part of the bridge between verses of the main Alice theme in the opening cue, before receiving its first prominent performance in the second cue, "Little Alice", where it is performed by elegant woodwinds and dainty chimes. Attentive listeners will hear similarities between this theme and Elfman's theme for the 1994 film Black Beauty in the melodic progression and the vaguely Irish lilt, another pleasing throwback to Elfman's golden era. For much of the score the two themes for Alice and Little Alice intertwine with each other, inseparable, reminders of her past encounters with the Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat and her new adventures in their company, although there are a couple of noticeably fuller statements, such as in the graceful "The White Queen".
The third theme is reflective of Alice's desperate future as a Victorian wife, a slightly stuffy and stately English waltz for prim woodwinds and plucked cellos. First heard in the third cue "Proposal", it is absent for a great deal of the rest of the album, featuring briefly in the lovely "Only a Dream", before reappearing prominently alongside the other two themes in the penultimate "Alice Returns" cue, signaling the end of her adventures in Wonderland and her arrival back in the real world... for now at least.
Alice's theme appears frequently throughout the score, in different guises numerous cues. Each of the five "Alice Reprises" feature fragmented performances of one of the cue's verses, again performed by a cut glass boy soprano, while cues such as "Down the Hole" restate the theme in grand fashion. Later cues such as "The Cheshire Cat" see Alice's theme being performed in a more deconstructed fashion, while many of the late-album action cues feature the theme as a heroic motif for the battle ahead. In the epic "Alice Decides" Elfman places the Alice theme at the center of a massive call-to-arms, a cacophony of choral majesty and cymbal-crashing, organ-blaring fury that is almost Lord of the Rings-esque in its lavish scope and is quite wonderful.
Even when he's writing slightly more abstract and unusual music, such as in the inebriated and unexpectedly Indian-sounding "Drink Me", the mysterious and moody "Finding Absolem", or the quite tortured-sounding "The Cheshire Cat", Elfman's music is never less than interesting. His orchestrations are clever and inventive, often working in supple electronic textures, cascading string effects, or layers of chimes under his orchestra, further enhancing his comparatively recent status of a composer who knows exactly how to manage his orchestra. Throughout it all, though, Elfman maintains the overarching sense of magical whimsy through the near-constant use of high register strings and the boy's choir, oohing and aahing a pleasing, dreamlike accompaniment.
The action music, of which there is quite a lot especially towards the end of the score, tends to be dense and quite busy, and more reflective of Elfman's more contemporary writing from scores such as Hellboy II or Wanted, although even here Elfman regularly interpolates snatches of thematic content, often to enormously satisfying effect. Cues such as the second half of "Down the Hole" and the gargantuan "Bandersnatched" are brutally exciting. "Alice and Bayard's Journey" grows into a majestic string and percussion march of dark and potent beauty, and "Alice Escapes" has a frantic energy and sense of momentum that is palpable, while the three-cue finale that comprises "Going to Battle", "The Final Confrontation" and "Blood of the Jabberwocky" is tremendous, working statements of both the main Alice and the Little Alice themes into a vibrant and heroic trio of cues that have the musical muscle to make your walls tremble.
Danny Elfman hasn't written a score this thematically rich, this orchestrally robust, or with this many intentional allusions to his most popular works in many years, and as a result Alice in Wonderland is sure to be immensely popular with anyone who grew up listening to and loving the likes of Batman and Edward Scissorhands. What's even more impressive, however, is the knowledge that Elfman's the composer of intellectual authority is as much in play here as Elfman the enthusiastic newcomer; the vibrancy of the work, the structure of the themes, the cleverness of the orchestrations and harmonies, combined with the flavors of the past, make this score indispensible. Even by his own recent high standards, it's the best Elfman score in many years, and even at this early stage a contender for the best score of 2010.
What struck me immediately about Elfman's work here is the clarity of direction. I mean the atmosphere is so spot on which is exactly what I was hoping for. There is a such a strong narrative quality to the music that you can visualize where each piece would fit in the movie.
I will say that the Alice score is extremely centric. Alice's theme is the force that drives the entire score and it shows up everywhere but thankfully Elfman uses the theme skillfully so that it never becomes monotonous. Another interesting aspect of the album is that there is minimal pauses between cues so that each piece sort of fades into the next without jarring stops. I can't really think of another composer who could of created a world so absolutely in tune with what I imagine when I think of Alice in Wonderland. Strong melodies abound here which I love, with plenty of the whimsy and sweet melancholy that is Danny Elfman's signature, but where other Alice scores pour on the sugar Elfman's score never gets cute instead it reflects the fact that the Alice in Burton's story is older/ more mature and the journey that she takes darker and more real. But you get more them Elfman's gift for melody here. I dan't usually like the cues for battle scenes but but these are very well done conveying tension, danger, and agression without beating the listener over the head with horms and percusion. And still other tracks that embody the off kilter strangness of wonderland with a success I don't feel has been captured before now. There wasn't amy thing about the score that I disliked but, I was slightly disappointed that the there was no theme for tha Hatter. I just felt like there should be somthing there for him. Also an aspect of the score thate confused me is the five reprises of Alices theme Why? Alice's theme is already so present why hammer it home It seems a little heavy handed to me but maybe they are used as some kindd of narrative device in the film all but the last of them are so short I cant think of any other purpose for them.
It's fair to say that I had unrealisticly high expectations of this album and I am delighted to find that not only where my expectations largly met but that the Score for Alice in Wonderland now shares the top spot with Edward scissorhands as my favorite Elfman score to date. Stand out tracks include Proposal/Down the Hole
The Cheshire Cat
Only a Dream
Elfman is able to weave these elements together into a cohesive and extremely enjoyable whole, anchored by a terrific theme. "Alice's Theme" is far and away the highlight of the album, woven deeply into every track and reprised in multiple variations, many of which went modified or unused in the final cut. As such, the album is almost like a concert suite, expertly arranged to be cohesive and listenable. Any Elfman fan, film score fan, or enthusiast of bold orchestral music owes it to themselves to give this a spin.
Be warned, though: the film's frantic post-production schedule means that the album doesn't include the Avril Lavigne song from the credits or the Hatter's dance. Lots of idiots are going to give this album one star because of their own inability to read the back of the case.
I appreciated the comments of another reviewer who said the Alice theme comes up repeatedly but that we appreciate it instead of thinking "oh, that again." I definitely agree with that reviewer and similarly enjoyed this aspect of it.
I like to use soundtracks like this as background when I'm doing something creative, or as companion music for tabletop RPGs, CCG tournaments, or any other game where a fantasy ambiance add to the experience. If you like to do that, too, then I doubly recommend this CD. I'm really glad this CD doesn't include the goofy hatter dance or any rock band songs... so no worries about anything pulling you out of the millieu while you listen.