The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the upcoming sequel to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and this is a prequel series to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. One of the most important components of any blockbuster film is the music score. I’m sure many of you just scoffed at that line, but it’s true. The music score of a film is not just one of the many layers that creates the movie, but something that evokes emotion in the audience and adds to the overall tone of the film.
Academy Award winner Howard Shore is the composer of the score to The Desolation of Smaug. He has previously worked on the score for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the first Hobbit movie. This means that Shore has created the epic musical world which surrounds these two trilogies, one that he continues to expand with his Desolation of Smaug soundtrack.
The score is played by a full symphony and the first song on the soundtrack sets the tone for the entire movie. Quest for Erebor may only be 3:30 mins long, but it goes through a range of emotions from sadness to hope, adventure to danger. These are the main themes evident through the whole soundtrack, and Quest for Erebor does a great job of bringing this range of emotions together in one short piece. Something to keep an eye out for throughout the soundtrack is the recurring ‘hobbits’ theme (anyone who has seen the movies should -hopefully- know exactly what i’m talking about). Whilst it’s most notable at the start of The Courage of Hobbits, this small refrain also pops up within other songs. This small nugget of composition gold evokes powerful emotions of hope, courage and determination, something a listener cannot help but smile at when it appears.
Without a doubt, my favourite piece from the soundtrack is The Forest River. Whilst it’s telling me that something bad is probably going to happen at a forest river in the movie, it also reminds me of why I love music scores for films. The Forest River has an overwhelming epic adventure vibe to it and it fills you with anticipation. Great use is made of the entire symphony, and if you sit back and close your eyes, you can hear the entire story unfolding before you. Another highlight of the soundtrack is The Nature of Evil. If you’ve ever wondered what evil would sound like, this is it. A heavy bass line takes charge for the majority of the piece, with gradually building ‘jarring’ notes that fill the listener with dread. It’s a little more stripped back and understated than some of the more intense songs on the soundtrack, but this just highlights the vulnerability that is often seen in all evil villains.
The complexity and layers of the songs on the soundtrack is astounding. Flies and Spiders, which begins so beautifully, turns dark and alarming, practically screaming ‘danger!’ Danger, warnings and dramatic melodies are key to many of the pieces, including Wilderland, A Spell of Concealment and A Liar and A Thief, while others convey a terrible longing and sadness (Kingsfoil, The Hunters and Durin’s Folk). But don’t fear, there are still happy songs to be found with the breathtaking Woodland Realm and Feast of Starlight.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a huge two hour, two CD effort, which is to be expected for such an enormous blockbuster film. Shore has once again created a wondrous soundtrack which will enrich and enhance the film and the audience’s emotions throughout. Whether you love music score soundtracks or not, The Desolation of Smaug is definitely one to take notice of.