CD: Adventures of Tintin, The (2011)

February 16, 2012 | By

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Rating: Very Good

Label: Sony Classical/ Released: December 13, 2011

Tracks & Album Length: 18 tracks / (65:39)

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Special Notes: 8-page colour booklet with liner notes by director Steven Spielberg.

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Composer: John Williams

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Review:

John Williams’ second 2011 score for Steven Spielberg, after the superlative War Horse [M], finds the composer back in the zippy, fluid orchestral writing designed to grab audiences and take them on the same buoyant journey as the film’s titular character.

There’s much in common here with Williams’ Indiana Jones and Harry Potter scores (and maybe a little bit of Home Alone and Jurassic Park) – it’s ripe with big sweeping movements and fabulous interplay between brass and huge waves of strings – and typical with any action / adventure animated film, the music must keep in time with screen movement, making much of the album an energetic orchestral trip. Moods range from mystical to death-defying danger (all stitched together in “Red Rackham’s Curse and the Treasure”), and Williams expertly saves the use of the full orchestra for specific hits of danger or lucky evasiveness.

Most cues have an element of constant propulsion, be it a slight, revolving bass pulse, or the composer’s patented style of having groups of brass and strings gliding through their own respective parts to create a continuous flow of motion, with busy figures and swirling figures briefly interrupted by short, pensive tonal pauses.

Buffering the kinetic cues are plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments, such as the lumbering (but lightly orchestrated) “Captain Haddock Takes the Oars” which eventually crests with trilling strings and a cymbal shimmer; or the swaggering brass in “The Flight to Bagghar,” with gentle piano and concertina which Williams quickly transforms into a slight jazzy dialogue between instruments, making boastful statements before a fadeout.

There’s a slight dose of exotica in “Capturing Mr. Silk,” with its brief slide into quasi-Arabic harmonics, and “Presenting Bianca Castafiore” starts off with a lovely Parisian atmosphere with concertina and a flowing melody before a brief operatic interlude (and concluding broken glass sound effects). That cue marks the score’s midpoint, and pretty much what follows through to the end is sustained action, such as the syncopated rhythms in the flighty “The Pursuit of the Falcon.” Only “The Captain’s Counsel,” with its combination of mystical sounds and brief allusions to “Captain Haddock’s Oars” offers a respite.

While Tintin doesn’t offer a memorable, lasting theme (at least not until the finale, “The Adventure Continues”), Williams seems to have preferred an emphasis on motion rather than melody, giving Tintin a whirlwind drive that never lets up after the album’s first cue – itself a brief main theme statement that peers through a kind of quiet, teasing mist. One could characterize the score as an amalgam of Williams’ major action motifs, but it’s distinguished by an unwavering giddiness – probably an overt indication the 79 year old composer had a blast scoring his umpteenth Spielberg film, since The Sugarland Express (1974).

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© 2012 Mark R. Hasan

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External References:

IMDB Soundtrack AlbumComposer Filmography

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