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  • Stefan Riedlinger

Cinderella - Patrick Doyle - Soundtrack Review

Okay, another Patrick Doyle score within a few weeks. I have to say I was not highly interested in seeing the new “Cinderella” movie. When my friend asked me if I want to join here for a movie and suggested “Cinderella”, I was not very excited, but then I checked the facts: Kenneth Branagh director, and Patrick Doyle composer, like nearly always when Branagh directs a movie. That sounds interesting…

The movie

"Cinderella" is a 2015 American romantic fantasy film directed by Kenneth Branagh, with the screenplay written by Chris Weitz. The film is based on the folktale and inspired in part by Walt Disney’s 1950 animated film. The film stars the gorgeous Lily James as Cinderella, Richard Madden as the charming prince, and Cate Blanchett as the cruel stepmother. Helena Bonham Carter makes a fabulous appearance as Fairy Godmother.

Even though I was initially not so keen to see it, I was immediately captivated by it. Let’s face it: this movie is excellent! A beautiful example of how a fairy tale should be directed these days. The special effects are perfectly integrated into the story, and it just fun to see the actors playing their roles. They seemed to have as much fun performing it as I was having watching it. Cate Blanchet is marvellous as the evil stepmother. I did not like her performance as the antagonist in the last Indiana Jones, but here she is great. Richard Madden is a charming prince, and Lily James is the perfect Cinderella. Here is the trailer:

"Cinderella" had its world premiere on 13 February 2015 at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival and was released in cinemas on 13 March 2015. It grossed over $543 million worldwide, becoming Branagh’s highest-grossing film to date as a director, and received mostly positive reviews. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design at the 88th Academy Awards.

After the release and success of "Cinderella", along with "Maleficent" (2014, with a fantastic score by James Newton Howard), "The Jungle Book" (2016) and "Beauty and the Beast" (2017), Walt Disney Pictures has announced the development of several other live-action remakes from their animated classics series. Perhaps an opportunity for Patrick Doyle to bring back romance and fantasy?

The music

And now for Patrick Doyle’s music. I do not want to say that his music is the best part of the movie because that would give the impression that the film is not worth seeing. I highly recommend seeing it! We chose an afternoon to watch it, and it was so much fun having kids around who are enjoying the movie, the funny special effects, the humour and the romance.

This kind of movie is perfect for Patrick Doyle. It gives the composer plenty of chances to develop melodies and a lovely atmosphere. For me, this is Doyle’s best soundtrack in recent years. I liked how he developed his melodies, especially the tracks using the piano (e.g. Ella and Kit). They are very touching.

Branagh knows about the importance of Doyle’s music: “The tone we were trying to achieve was playful and joyful, but also emotional without being manipulative. Patrick found a beautiful yet robust tune that could be orchestrated so that it could offer lots of moods. It had simplicity, joy, and added a sense of fun. And, of course, his trademark: romantic.”

With 30 tracks – three of them are songs – you get a lot of music for your money, and the score is highly enjoyable. I want to give some recommendations and comment on some of the highlights in this score. While listening to the first track, you will immediately fall in love with this score. The soundtrack, played by the London Symphony Orchestra, debuted at No. 60 on the Billboard 200, selling 8,000 copies in its first week.

Track 5 "The First Branch" is the first highlight with Doyle using the piano. The usage of this instrument reminded me of raindrops falling. "The Stag" (track 8) is Doyle at his best: the composer uses the full force of the orchestra and develops a fantastic dramaturgical structure. Turn the speakers up loud for this track! "Fairy Godmother" (track 10) is a highly enjoyable scene in the movie, and so is the music. Doyle uses a mixture of strings and choir to create a magical atmosphere. The funny tune continues with "Pumpkins and Mice" (track 11). Here pizzicato strings start before the full orchestra enters.

One of my favourite tracks is "La Valse De L’Amour" (track 15). Patrick Doyle said in an interview that he started by writing the grand waltz that is the movie’s centrepiece, as Cinderella charms the prince and the King’s court at a lavish ball at the palace. “Everything leads to the ballroom and beyond,” Doyle explains, “so it was crucial.” Therefore, this waltz is exactly as it has to be: “simple and direct, but with strength.” Here is the scene, and let's be honest: This is one of the most romantic scenes ever!

This main waltz might motivate you to go back to dance classes and improve your own waltz skills. What a charming scene in the movie, what a lovely melody! Track 19 "The Secret Garden" underscores the scene when the bell is ringing and Cinderella has to leave. Doyle first develops a haunting atmosphere, and you can also hear the sound of the bell, and then the drama starts and the music erupts.

My favourite track is "Pumpkin Pursuit" (track 22). This is an energetic, powerful track, full of speed and action. The orchestra is on fire to underscore the dramatic scene of Cinderella’s escape. This 2’30 track is so enjoyable that you want to hear it again and again. Find it here:

After that, "The Slipper" (track 23) and "Shattered Dreams" (track 24) are quieter ones and focus more on the romantic moments. "Ella and Kit" (track 26) I have already mentioned. "Courage and Kindness" (track 27) is the last orchestral piece of the score and a fantastic ending to this highly enjoyable soundtrack.

For me, this score is the perfect fairy tale, and it shows how much romance, energy and drama a very gifted composer can bring to one soundtrack when the inspiration flows thanks to having a beautifully balanced movie to work on.

And now I get back to “Pumpkin Pursuit”….

Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2015, all rights reserved. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Stefan Riedlinger.

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