Musical adventure: John Williams takes on a cartoon legend.
The release of any new film score by John Williams is an event. Beginning with the grand Mahler-esque melodies of Indiana Jones and Superman, the American composer has created the most recognisable film music of all time. The Williams of Tintin, however, is less like Mahler and more like the dive bar on Tattoine from Star Wars – if it had been a French colony. The theme of Tintin the character is heavily swing-infused, with a walking double bass and a synthesised harpsichord (like something out of Mario Brothers) that may disappoint some listeners. The piano-driven Snowy’s theme is more fun, and sounds weirdly like one of Rachmaninov’s more chipper Paganini Variations.
There is a chromatic, circus-like quality to all the proceedings here, with a clarinet and accordion introducing bungling detectives Thomson and Thompson. A moment of grandeur is introduced by Renée Fleming (as Mme Castelfiore) singing Ah, jeux vivre, with the final high C autotuned up to an F (to the sound of breaking glass). Williams’s ensuing variations on the melody of the aria are a witty touch. The Adventures of Tintin is perhaps not a piece of the stature of, say, Saving Private Ryan – a soundtrack that rewards repeated listening – but the touch of a master is audible throughout.
This article appeared in the February, 2012 issue of Limelight Magazine.
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