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INKHEART – Javier Navarrete

January 23, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A vivid fantasy adventure with a literary imagination, Inkheart stars Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis and newcomer Eliza Bennett, in a story about a man whose reading aloud brings characters from stories to life. The film is directed by Iain Softley from the popular novel by Cornelia Funke, and features a rousing original score by Spanish composer Javier Navarrete, his first foray back into the fantasy genre since his critically acclaimed work on Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006.

A colorful full-orchestral affair, Inkheart revels in its fantastical storybook heritage, presenting cue after cue of lush, warm, grandiose music that moves easily from romantically sweeping themes to vivid action cues to rich exotica. Navarrete’s liberal use of a soft choir alongside chimes, light percussion, harps and woodwinds gives the whole score a magical air, and several of the orchestral crescendos – such as in “Abandonment”, “Incarceration” and the conclusive “Meadows” – are truly lovely, although the main thematic element does bear a strong resemblance to James Horner’s score for An American Tail.

The action music, especially in “Mo Runs Away”, “The Escape” and “Creatures Return Home” is generally energetic and tuneful, although occasionally it becomes quite violent, with thunderous percussion runs giving the cues a real sense of power and urgency. Some cues, such as “Hostages”, occasionally veer into horror music territory, especially when Navarrete incorporates a chanting male voice choir and low, nervous string sustains into the mix. There are also some sequences featuring acoustic guitars, notably in “Ellinor Remembers Resa” and “Hostages”, which give the score a different and interesting color and expand the scope of the music.

Similarly, cues such as “Bandits”, “Dejected Dustfinger” and “Jugglers” have a definite sense of the exotic through their vivid use of Middle Eastern shakers, ethnic vocals and lilting string writing. As was the case in Pan’s Labyrinth, the orchestrations throughout the score are quite superb; the piano is used prominently as a rhythmic, percussive base in many of the cues, rather than carrying any specific melody, while the instrumental combinations Navarrete uses – often pitting unexpected instruments against each other, or using an instrument outside of its usual setting – are fascinating, and contribute enormously to the overall depth of the score.

Fans of Pan’s Labyrinth, or of scores which take the listener on a journey to faraway places will find plenty to enjoy here, as will those who enjoy scores with wide and varied orchestral palettes that are not afraid to be different.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Front Titles (3:17)
  • Mo Runs Away (4:40)
  • Abandonment (3:22)
  • Ellinor Remembers Resa (3:01)
  • Hostages (2:46)
  • To the Castle (2:07)
  • Mo’s Secret (2:10)
  • Bandits (2:19)
  • Dejected Dustfinger (3:37)
  • The Escape (3:26)
  • Off to the Coast (2:05)
  • Jugglers (2:46)
  • Fenoglio Remembers Inkheart (3:41)
  • Rooftops (2:11)
  • Incarcerated (3:21)
  • Dustfinger Escapes (2:49)
  • The Plot (2:46)
  • Creatures Return Home (4:45)
  • Dustfinger Disappointment (3:11)
  • Meadows (3:13)
  • My Declaration (performed by Eliza Bennett) (3:55)

Running Time: 65 minutes 28 seconds

Universal Classics SK 51336 (2009)

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