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Hugo: Original Score
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Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese, is a family adventure drama based on Brian Selznick's novel 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret.' Hugo tells the story of an orphan boy living a secret life in the walls of a Paris train station. With the help of an eccentric girl, he searches for the answer to a mystery linking the father he recently lost, the ill-tempered toy shop owner living below him and a heart shaped lock, seemingly without a key. Hugo, Scorsese's first film shot in 3D, also marks his fifth collaboration with Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore, whose sweeping score captures the sounds of 1930s Paris and is as multi-dimensional as the picture.
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"Hugo" was filmed - and must be seen - in 3-D and the special effects and acting keep your eyes glued to the screen. But, all this time, your ears are hearing the score and subconsciously helping you relate to the characters. All I remembered after the film was over - and I was watching the final credits roll on the screen with the one vocal track, "Couer Volant" performed by a singer named Zaz - was that I had to hear the score by itself. When I got the CD today and sat down to listen to it, the "theme" for "The Thief" brought back images of the massive train station in Paris and the orphaned boy living among the clocks. Over the next 67 minutes (the recorded score is over half the length of the film) scenes came back to me. The accordion that composer Howard Shore uses prominently puts you right back in Paris as the 19th century was rolling into the 20th.
This album is not on one of the major labels - a surprise to me! - but Shore's own Howe Records. (At least I think it's his label!) If that is the case, he has done us all a great service in releasing it with such great sound. The CD comes with a 8-page booklet which contains just a track list and photos,; no discussion of the film.
If you've seen the film, you know what a wonderful score it is. If you haven, then go out and see this wonderful film NOW - and then come back and buy the album.
The score is definitely a refreshing and mesmerizing journey. The music whisks you into fantasy within the first track and doesn't let go. The structure while maybe not technically a waltz definitely has that feel, and I found myself swaying my head to the beats as I listened. The music can be delicate when it needs to be, and even when it's bold it's never aggressive. It lulls you into a state of being that is just plain wonderful. I can't imagine anyone not having a warm smile on their face while listening to this. The music is young at heart so it feels rejuvenating. I felt love and admiration at every point in the score and that transcends into something very special. Howard Shore hasn't composed something like this in a while. It's nothing that will blow you away emotionally, but it is perfect when it comes to crafting a state of mind and guiding the audience through it. For some reason it reminds me of sitting by a warm crackling fire while there's 2 feet of snow on the ground outside.
It's nice to hear a Howard Shore score for a Scorsese picture again since Shutter Island opted for non-original music. Shore definitely composes one of his most character rich scores in some time and the brisk youthful energy in every note is something to make everyone smile. The score embodies setting, atmosphere, character and pure inspiration to create a memorable experience.
There is a lot of beauty to be found in this soundtrack. Everything from the aching beauty of the first track, to the somewhat odd beauty in "Purpose" works very well in creating a very relaxed and pleasing atmosphere for the world the movie takes place in. The sort of careful playfulness of the score in tracks like "A Ghost in the Station" and "The Invention of Dreams" are done very well. Makes me want to see the movie to see what they go with. Hopefully on blu someday.
The location of the movie would be the reason for the accordion I'm guessing. Shore weaves the instrument into several cues without ever being too distracting. It falls comfortably into the ensemble and along with the guitar that Shore employs, gives the soundtrack a very unique feel. "Coeur Volant" has my favorite use of the accordion. Works very well on that track as it accompanies the piano.
The lack of choir is a very welcome touch for me. Shore has more than proved that he can write great choral material, but I really like their absence here. Movies of this nature are usually buried with soft choir which works fine, but does gets a bit tiresome. Their absence here is a refreshing change that I'm very grateful for.
I couldn't quite put my finger on anything that I could identify as a theme. There is a familiar melody for the piano on the first track that is played a couple of times on other tracks so I'm guessing that must be the theme? Not sure about that though. I'm sure after I see the movie the themes will become clearer, but for now I'm having hard time pin pointing which one could be the movie's theme.
There is a song featured on "Coeur Volant" sang by Zaz, which just might be one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. Don't know what she's saying but it is very pleasing to listen to so no complaints from me.
Those expecting a bold epic score in the vein of his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy will be disappointed, but anyone looking forward to hearing Shore create some of truly beautiful and imaginative music will definitely be in heaven.