Home > Reviews > THE SECRET OF MOONACRE – Christian Henson


February 6, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A British children’s fantasy based on the popular novel “The Little White Horse” by Elizabeth Goudge, The Secret of Moonacre stars Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather who, following the death of her father, is sent to live at her uncle’s country estate. By reading her only inheritance – an ancient book – Maria learns of an ancient feud between her family and the neighboring DeNoir family over a set of magical pearls upon them by a beautiful and mysterious woman known as the Moon Princess. Slowly, Maria learns that she has been entrusted with finding the pearls and ending the dispute between the clans; but time is running out.

The film, which was directed by master animator Gapor Csupo and also stars Ioan Gruffudd, Tim Curry, Natascha McElhone and Juliet Stevenson, has an original score by young composer Christian Henson, who is the son of English actress Una Stubbs. Despite being written for a film the potential to inspire great music, Henson’s score is oddly anonymous. There’s nothing wrong with it per se; it’s performed by a full orchestra with a choir, and has a very pleasing tonal quality with appealing melodies and charming orchestrations. It’s just that, for the most part, it seemed very ‘plain’, with no distinct personality of its own.

Some of the cues are nevertheless quite lovely; the sweeping theme in the “Opening Titles” is mysterious and magical, the extended “Into the Book” builds in some lovely vocal writing, prettily delicate orchestrations and more magical crescendos, and the brief “I’m Glad That You’re Back” and “Apology Tango” both feature gorgeous duets for cello and piano. Later cues such as “Maria’s Room” continue the sense of child-like wonderment with a light, enchanting touch, while scherzos such as “The Journey to Moonacre”, “Marmaduke Scarlet” and “Setting the Bait” are energetic and playful, with the latter pair incorporating the sound of breaking glass into the percussion section.

Some of the action music is also very lively and colorful, notably in cues such as “Into the Forest”, “Maria Escapes”, “Maria is Captured”, and “Little White Horse Leads On/Chase Through the Forest”, all of which clearly highlight Henson’s vivid musical imagination and interesting instrumental touches. The beautiful “Sea Horses” is one of the most enchanting cues on the album, making wonderful use of soulful vocal writing, while the conclusive “All’s Well That End’s Well” ends the score on a high note with a rousing recapitulation of the score’s main theme. Christian Henson is definitely a composer to watch.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Opening Titles (2:31)
  • The Journey to Moonacre (1:52)
  • Robin Attacks/Arrival at Moonacre (1:01)
  • Into the Book (3:48)
  • Marmaduke Scarlet (2:12)
  • Maria’s Room (1:32)
  • Into the Forest (2:21)
  • The Moonacre Curse (3:11)
  • Milk and Cookies (1:22)
  • Running from Moonacre/Loveday (1:42)
  • The 5, 000th Moon (2:40)
  • I’m Glad That You’re Back (0:53)
  • Maria is Captured (4:50)
  • The Two Moon Princesses (1:38)
  • Maria Escapes (5:14)
  • Apology Tango (1:28)
  • Setting the Bait (1:33)
  • The Search Begins (2:05)
  • Robin and Wrolf Are Captured (1:41)
  • Little White Horse Leads On/Chase Through the Forest (5:55)
  • Back Where It All Began (1:41)
  • Maria’s Sacrifice (2:08)
  • Sea Horses (2:27)
  • Love Waltz (2:21)
  • All’s Well That End’s Well (4:14)
  • Stars (2:57)

Running Time: 65 minutes 17 seconds

Movie Score Media MMS-09006 (2009)

  1. Susan
    January 12, 2011 at 1:56 am

    I am trying to buy the sheet music for “Stars” from Secret of Moonacre. Is it available and where can I get it. Piano or Harp would be great. Many Thanks

  2. Jon
    January 12, 2011 at 9:55 am

    No idea I’m afraid! Sorry!

  3. June 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I would like the sheet music for the Love Waltz — both the piano solo and the piano duet…please can someone ask Mr. Henson to sell it please!

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