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  • Writer's pictureStefan

Hampstead - Stephen Warbeck - Soundtrack Review

The idea to talk about “Hampstead” was developed last year. I was looking for a nice score for my December review. I had no time to watch “The Grinch” with James Horner’s score and then chose “Hampstead”, as a nice and unspectacular score because I just like the main theme so much.

The movie

“Hampstead” is a 2017 British drama film directed by Joel Hopkins and written by Robert Festinger. It is based on the life of Harry Hallowes who successfully claimed ownership of a half-acre plot of Hampstead Heath. The film stars Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson in the main roles. The film was released on 23 June 2017, by Entertainment One Films. Here is the trailer:

The movie is a typical Diane Keaton movie, and she plays her typical character, nothing special, but enjoyable. “Hampstead” is not the kind of movie I would go to the cinema to, but I saw the movie on a family trip to Brazil on a long flight. I was tired of the usual action movies, so I decided to go with “Hampstead”. When I heard the main theme, I immediately loved it. What a wonderful theme, and therefore, I wanted to talk about “Hampstead” on my blog. If you check the reviews on amazon, you found some very harsh and unfair comments. This movie does not want to invent a new way of storytelling and, of course, uses a lot of stereotypes in the story, but to be frank, it is a heart-warming movie with a nice story about two people falling in love. Isn’t this enough sometimes?

The music

Stephen Warbeck, born 1953 in Southampton (yes, the city where the Titanic left for her big journey) is an English composer. He first became known for the music for “Prime Suspect”, a television drama series with Helen Mirren, and won an Academy Award for his music for “Shakespeare in Love” (1998). That music has also a very nice main theme, and I bought the soundtrack just because of the theme. I have to admit that since then, I just listened to the soundtrack once or twice and never to the whole score. I just liked the main theme with its lovely melody and therefore, mostly just listened to the first track on the album.

I am still wondering why this music got an Academy Award? Remember, Jerry Goldsmith was also nominated in the same category with his fantastic score for “Mulan”. Normally, composing the music for a Disney movie is a great chance to win an Oscar. Alan Menken got a lot of Oscars for his scores for Disney movies, and Hans Zimmer won his only Oscar so far for “Lion King”. So, I thought, Jerry might finally win his second Oscar with “Mulan”, and then he lost against “Shakespeare in Love” Really? Another time, the Academy showed that their sense of music is really nothing to be proud of.

Back to “Hampstead”: It took me a while to get a CD with the music, the score was first released as downloads. The album consists of 17 tracks. The first track “Hampstead” brings us the beautiful main theme, and i is also the best track of the whole score. Just listen to it and enjoy! I like especially how the piano and the mandolin work together. This main theme gives this score a unique touch.

Warbeck uses the mandolin a lot, and these tracks are the best of the score, for example, “The Petition”, “The Cemetery”, “The Campaign”, “To The Museum”, and “Fishing for Dinner”. Some of these tracks are energetic, some are more lyrical and nearly sad such as “The Photographs”, “Judgment”, “Leaving The Hut”, ”Leaving Hamstead”, and “Fishing Trip”.

The second last track “New Beginning” brings the score to an end. A very nice track that does not use the main theme, quite unusual for this album, one of my favourite tracks of this score. With the last track, you have again the main theme that brings the album to an end.

Overall the music is a little repetitive because Warbeck just has one theme which he constantly uses. There is not so much variation in the music, and this is a little boring when you want to listen to the whole album. Nevertheless, the main theme is so beautiful that you should not miss listening to it. Enjoy the music on some quieter days while looking forward to your next walk in nature!

I found a nice video on YouTube about the Hampstead district in London:

Jerry Goldsmith First Knight.png
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