Film scores

Soundtrack review: Cinderella (Patrick Doyle – 2015)

CINDERELLA

The collaboration between director Kenneth Branagh and composer Patrick Doyle is among my favorites in film music. I like how well Doyle understands the stories Branagh creates and i haven’t found a score yet i didn’t like. Branagh never used another composer in his career and this is another thing I admire. Last year I had a “Patrick Doyle” month where I reviewed all their collaborations. I couldn’t wait for the next one.

After delivering great movies with stories ranging from Shakespeare to Thor and Frankenstein, it was time for this brilliant director to try his hand at fairy tales. “Cinderella” is inspired from the 1950 Disney movie I grew up with so I will definitely check it out. Considering that the recent movies featuring the other two well know ladies of the Disney universe, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty benefited from two magnificent scores (both by James Newton Howard) , “Cinderella” became one of my most anticipated scores from the first half of 2015. How will Patrick Doyle’s orchestral excellence fare?

“A golden childhood” is the fairy tale start I dreamed of. Oh how the music flows and how the notes dance as if sliding on the smoothest of ices in the most beautiful synchrony… This opening cue is gentle, dreamy and butterflies made of flute sounds fly joyously through this fantasy landscape. Every note is placed there with care and sparkles in the luminous mood of this piece. I instantly remember “A little princess” and the magical moments Doyle created there. “The great secret” continues in the same gentle and melodic mood. The strings sound as if they were dipped in honey while the piano has the innocence and honesty of a little child.

Patrick Doyle’s music in unique to me. I always recognize is and it constantly mesmerizes me. His orchestral compositions are worthy on concert halls and he knows how to pour emotions into music almost like no other. In just two minutes “A new family” goes from the hope of a new start to the shadows brought by the true nature of the family. This is Cinderella…. We all know the story, we all know her step mother and step sisters and Patrick Doyle makes sure we never forget how they act. The cue subtly changes mood midway through as if dark clouds suddenly gathered on the sunniest of days.

After the magic start, the first part of the score is serious and elegant. Yes there’s nothing new or unheard of in cues like “Life and laughter”, “The first branch” or “Nice and airy” but the music is so beautiful, so romantic and so precious that it doesn’t matter. Even if the variations are very subtle, I love it. This is why I love orchestral scores and somehow Patrick Doyle reminds us in every cue that this is a fairytale.

“Orphaned” breaks the rhythm and makes us all feel Cinderella’s sadness. The music is deep and intense and reminds me once again of “A little princess”. The buildup of the piano and strings in the second half of the cue makes my heart beat faster and I choke a little bit. This track sounds honest; it’s not a fairytale anymore. The pain is real.

And then comes “The stag” which simply explodes with thunderous orchestral magic. Patrick Doyle forgets his confines and just leaves the instruments free. The first half of this cue sounds like a revolt before the music settles back down in the British elegance we were used to. It also opens my appetite for a more adventurous composition.

“You shall go” brings the kind of magic I was longing for, the sound that makes me believe in the story. This is the moment when I become part of the Cinderella story that Patrick Doyle tells me. The score doesn’t keep that momentum because the next few tracks are polkas and waltzes. They are, of course, delightful, but not really unique to the musical story. They had to be there because of the ball scenes but I longed for the adventure in “Choose that one” or “Pumpkin pursuit”. This is where the identity of the Cinderella score lies. I wish I could see them performed live. I will surely introduce them in my running playlist for the more intense sessions. Welcome back, Patrick Doyle! Thank you for the ride, I am excited and delighted like a kid watching the most amazing adventure when I hear cues like these.

The most brilliant moments in “Cinderella” are the adventure ones. They make the score feel alive. Except “Orphaned”, the quieter and more emotional parts are beautiful but too disciplined. Evens so, Patrick Doyle masters that orchestral discipline so well that it doesn’t matter. The music is beautiful, it charms and relaxes me. Doyle fans will adore this score.

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 34 / 72

Album excellence: 48%

Highlights:

A golden childhood

The Great Secret

A New Family

Life And Laughter

Orphaned

The Stag

You Shall Go

Who Is She

Choose That One

Pumpkin Pursuit

Courage And Kindness

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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