Review: ‘Deathly Hallows: Part 2’ Soundtrack

July 21, 2011, 12:59 a.m.
Review: 'Deathly Hallows: Part 2' Soundtrack
Courtesy of WaterTower Music

The soundtrack for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” arguably the most anticipated movie of our generation, has been as important as the film itself. Fans expected the best of the final movie, and fortunately, composer Alexandre Desplat rose valiantly to the occasion, creating a nearly perfect soundtrack for an equally magnificent visual extravaganza.

Joining the “Potter” crew as a successor to the legendary John Williams – who also composed the iconic themes for “Jaws,” “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” – Desplat was something of an underdog facing the scrutiny of millions of fans. His first composition for the series, the “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” soundtrack, was certainly beautiful, but lacking.

Desplat’s greatest failure is his propensity to compose ‘generic’ pieces, rich in mood but lacking in discernible style. His inadequacies were most evident in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” where the music was just there, but uninspired. The pieces would have fit nicely into even a “Twilight” soundtrack – something that, for many “Potter” fans, screams blasphemy.

It seems for “Part 2,” Desplat did his research, understanding both what the fans wanted and what the film begged for. Familiar components make a reappearance; the beloved “Hedwig’s Theme,” for instance, which encapsulates the wizarding world in its innocence, can be found in “Dragon Flight.” Most notably, Desplat nicely struck the balance between majestic and despondent, moods between which the final movie quickly flickers.

One of the best pieces is the short but majestic “Statues.” It plays in the film during one of the most moving segments – the initial stages of the Battle of Hogwarts, where the dark forces seem to be overwhelmingly defeating the defenders and Harry, Ron and Hermione realize, perhaps for the first time, the magnitude of what they are trying to accomplish.

The surprising emotion revealed in the travels through Snape’s memories are reflected in the compositions as well. For instance, the first piece, “Lily’s Theme,” features a haunting, deep melody that both the powerfully tragic denouement of “Snape’s Demise” and the beautiful “Resurrection Stone” echo – both shrewd compositional moves by Desplat. The longest, and by far the most perfect, part of the soundtrack is “Severus and Lily,” a gentle piece evoking their beautifully innocent friendship.

In short, Desplat took a cue from his predecessors, composing noticeable and memorable themes for “Part 2.” Fans will sit up and notice the anxious violins signaling trouble, the triumphant blasts of victory and the quiet, peaceful melody in the very last scene at Hogwarts. Desplat has finally managed to enhance the visual effects and emotional thrills of “Harry Potter,” just in time for the most important movie of the series. Undoubtedly, the soundtrack is a perfect fit to the grand end of a long, satisfying era.

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