HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE – Patrick Doyle
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the film adaptation of the best-selling novel by J.K. Rowling, sees young the wizard Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) entering his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with his best friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). After getting caught up in a worrying incident at the Quidditch World Cup, Harry finds himself unexpectedly involved in the legendary Tri-Wizard tournament, in which the champions of three international witchcraft schools take part in a number of challenging and highly dangerous tasks to find an overall winner. However, against the backdrop of this prestigious event, something much more sinister is afoot: rumours begin to circulate about the return of the Death Eaters, evil wizards who wrought havoc upon the magical world years before – and worse yet, the return of Voldemort, their leader, and the one who murdered Potter’s parents…
All the cast regulars – Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Gary Oldman, Jason Isaacs – return for a further helping, and this time are joined by new faces Brendan Gleeson as new teacher Mad-Eye Moody, Frances De La Tour as Madame Maxine, Miranda Richardson as nosy reporter Rita Skeeter, and Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort himself. Another new name is that of the director, Englishman Mike Newell, and taking into account the fact that series composer John Williams already had two major scores to write during the second half of 2005, Newell decided to bring in a new composer: Patrick Doyle, who had previously worked with the director on Into the West in 1992 and Donnie Brasco in 1997.
The first thing that’s immediately noticeable about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is that, by and large, Doyle avoids littering his score with verbatim quotations from Williams’s previous material. Of course, to ensure continuity, there are a couple of restatements – in the incredibly dark opening “The Story Continues”, during the mysterious “Foreign Visitors Arrive”, quietly at the end of “Golden Egg”, and so on – but rather than being outright performances, they are instead nuanced and subtle, peeking through to make themselves heard at key moments, altered and re-orchestrated, but still recognisable enough to make an impact. This is certainly not Ken Thorne/Superman II or Don Davis/Jurassic Park III territory, and Goblet of Fire is a stronger score because of it.
Instead, for the most part, Doyle’s music plays up to the inherent darkness and danger in the story, beginning with the creepy and shockingly brutal “Frank Dies”, and building from there. The many action set-pieces are quite remarkable, much bigger and more elaborate than anything we have heard from Doyle in quite a while. Throughout all of them there are faint stylistic hints from earlier Doyle scores, notably Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Hamlet, Henry V and Needful Things, and (unusually) Debbie Wiseman’s score for Arsène Lupin – but never before has Doyle’s music attained such a high level of grandeur, force and sheer volume.
“The Quidditch World Cup” opens with a thunderous Irish jig before exploding in an action cue of tremendous power and intensity, featuring battering-ram percussion and an angry male voice choir reminiscent of a Maori haka battle chant. This is quidditch music taken to the limits: swift, fierce, and very dangerous. This segues into the flamboyantly fast-paced “The Dark Mark’, the first indication that all is not well in the wizarding world. “Harry Sees Dragons” and “Golden Egg”, which together underscore Harry’s first task in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, are replete with enormous brass fanfares and more pounding percussion, a brilliant musical depiction of Harry’s lightning speed on a broomstick fighting for supremacy with dragon’s lumbering gait, treacherous tail and fiery breath. The shimmery “Underwater Secrets”, with its exotic oboe melody and hypnotic come-hither mermaid vocalisations, leads into the second Tri-Wizard set-piece, “The Black Lake”, which begins quietly with glass effects and a ghostly chorus, before eventually emerging into another dramatic, thrusting action sequence.
The big 16-minute finale – encompassing “The Maze”, “Voldemort” and “The Death of Cedric” – takes place in the newly-grown Hogwarts maze, a labyrinth of trees and hedgerows concealing all manner of tricks and traps, into which Harry and the other Tri-Wizard competitors must venture in order to win the ultimate prize. The sensational “Voldemort” cue is darkly emotional and at times almost unbearably dramatic, with all manner of orchestral explosions, rich dissonances and brooding, shadowy string themes vying for supremacy as Harry’s arch-nemesis finally announces his terrifying arrival. As the cue progresses an ascending motif similar to the Chamber of Secrets fanfare from the second movie emerges from the depths, and by the end of it all Doyle’s new chromatic theme for Voldemort is engaging in a musical battle with a lighter, more angelic theme for Harry which is almost as intense as the one between the wizards on screen. When Doyle’s string elegy for Cedric kicks in, the emotional release one feels is almost palpable. It’s imaginative, breathless, brilliant stuff.
To temper the onslaught, there are number of more light-hearted interludes, including the cute, Elfman-esque pizzicato prance for the nefarious reporter “Rita Skeeter”, and three beautiful mid-album pieces, “Neville’s Waltz”, “Harry in Winter” and “Potter Waltz”, which highlight Doyle’s assured touch with charming melodies and lush orchestrations. “Harry in Winter” is worth special note, mainly for its unexpectedly touching depiction of teenage romantic angst and sweeping string theme, but all three show the same delightful sensitivity and lightness of touch that has characterised Doyle’s work throughout his career. Everything is resolved during the conclusive “Another Year Ends” and “Hogwarts’ Hymn” – sturdy, noble, patriotic, English-sounding tunes that Elgar, Walton or Hubert Parry would have been proud to call his own, and which round things off on a positive, defiantly upbeat note.
The three songs at the end, “Do the Hippogriff”, “Into the Night” and “Magic Works”, are written and performed by an indie music super-group consisting of Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey of Pulp, Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway of Radiohead, and Steve Claydon and Jason Buckle from the techno-billy band Relaxed Muscle. Together, and for this project only, they have come together to form the wizard-world superstars The Weird Sisters, who perform on-screen at Hogwarts for the Yule Ball festivities. While I’m sure the vast majority of film score fans will find that their ears begin to spontaneously bleed upon hearing these songs, I actually quite like them. They’re intentionally ‘offbeat’, I’ve always been a fan of Cocker’s work, and “Magic Works” is actually quite romantic – it reminds me of something David Bowie might have produced in the mid-80s.
If one were to make one tiny criticism of Doyle’s score, it’s that there is no prominent new theme. Cinema-goers are unlikely to leave the theatre whistling a new Hedwig’s Theme or Fawkes’s Theme. Also, perhaps the only mis-step in the entire album is the cheery “Hogwarts March”, a jaunty brass band piece in the style of Julian Nott’s Wallace & Gromit theme, which will forever make me think of the summers I used to spend with my grandfather as a child, walking through parks in my home city of Sheffield, listening to music like this played by the Grimethorpe or Black Dyke Colliery Bands.
Bearing those two small caveats in mind, I nevertheless wholeheartedly and unreservedly declare Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to be one of the finest scores of Patrick Doyle’s career, and easily one of the best scores to be released in 2005. A few naysayers thought that Doyle would be unable to recreate the sense of fantasy and magic Williams brought to the previous Harry Potter films, and that nothing in his previous filmography gave any indication of the level of composing talent needed to accomplish this. I can emphatically confirm that he does indeed have the talent, and that in many ways his score surpasses the quality of Williams’ previous works, considering the musical shoes he had to fill. Anything less than an Oscar nomination would be an absolute travesty. And I just pray that Doyle’s services are retained for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2007.
- The Story Continues (1:31)
- Frank Dies (2:12)
- The Quidditch World Cup (1:52)
- The Dark Mark (3:27)
- Foreign Visitors Arrive (1:30)
- The Goblet of Fire (3:23)
- Rita Skeeter (1:42)
- Sirius Fire (2:00)
- Harry Sees Dragons (1:54)
- Golden Egg (6:11)
- Neville’s Waltz (2:11)
- Harry in Winter (2:56)
- Potter Waltz (2:19)
- Underwater Secrets (2:28)
- The Black Lake (4:37)
- Hogwarts’ March (2:46)
- The Maze (4:44)
- Voldemort (9:39)
- Death of Cedric (1:59)
- Another Year Ends (2:21)
- Hogwarts’ Hymn (2:59)
- Do the Hippogriff (written by Jarvis Cocker and Jason Buckle, performed by The Weird Sisters) (3:39)
- This is the Night (written by Jarvis Cocker, performed by The Weird Sisters) (3:24)
- Magic Works (written by Jarvis Cocker, performed by The Weird Sisters) (4:01)
Running Time: 75 minutes 57 seconds
Warner Sunset WEA-49631 (2005)
Music composed by Patrick Doyle. Conducted by James Shearman. Orchestrations by Patrick Doyle, Lawrence Ashmore, John Bell, Nicole Nevin and Brad Dechter. Original Harry Potter themes written by John Williams. Recorded and mixed by Nick Wollage. Album produced by Patrick Doyle.