by Dan Goldwasser
Award-winning composer Howard Shore wrote a rather contemporary guitar-heavy score for The Departed, and now he follows up that work with the family science fiction film, The Last Mimzy. Based on the 1943 short story by Henry Kuttner, Mimzy is about two siblings, Noah and Emma, who discover a mysterious box that contains some strange devices they think are toys. As they start to play with the toys, they begin to display new talents and abilities.
For Mimzy, Shore returns to his stylistically warm orchestral sound that fans will find recognizable and comforting, and co-pens a song with ex-Pink Floyd member Roger Waters. There are a few themes in the score, which runs 44-minutes long, not counting the lengthy song. The soundtrack will be released on March 20, from New Line Records. Please note that, as with most of our "First Listen" articles, SoundtrackNet has not yet seen the film, and what follows is a track-by-track analysis of the soundtrack album.
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1. The Mandala (1:37)
The album starts off with the main Mimzy theme, performed on strings. It's a hopeful melody with a pastoral sensibility that builds up into a dramatic minor theme that evokes wonder and awe. A gong roll leads into a quick statement of the first four-notes of the main theme before coming to an end.
2. Whidbey Island (3:21)
French horns and then piano build up a theme we'll call (for the purposes of this article), the "Family Theme". It soon migrates into the strings, where it takes on a pleasing warmth. A more playful melody is soon heart on woodwinds and piano, probably representing the children. It bridges back into the Family Theme on strings and piano, and then clarinet before a string sustain softly takes us to the four-note statement of the main theme on French horns. Tense and ominous tremolo strings slowly descend in waves, and then a high dissonant note is held as the low strings play out the main theme. The celli play against the high strings as a dramatic moment is held, and the track ends.
3. Under the Bed (2:46)
Low strings slowly work their way around the main theme without actually playing it, until it builds up into a small variation of the main theme played prominently on the strings that lead to the minor "Wonder Theme" (from the first track) on the woodwinds and then on strings. The main theme is heard a few more times, and then the track ends with a slowly building dramatic chord coming off the main theme.
4. Cuddle (1:27)
Soft strings and vibes open the track which leads right into a warm comforting version of the Family Theme. Clarinet leads the melody, backed by strings, and then it softly ends the same way it started.
5. Beach (1:59)
A harp plays the main theme, and then a clarinet brings in the Family Theme, along with a piano backed by the strings. A flute takes over, and then the playful Childrens Theme gently makes an appearance, predominantly on strings and piano.
6. Scribbles (2:38)
Short whimsical strings underscore an oboe as the track begins, leading into a somewhat whimsical version of the main theme. Strings take over, providing a background element, with small moments that hint at the main theme. Now a minor version of the Family Theme makes an appearance before a piano joins in, and then an oboe, allowing for a feeling of hesitancy as the track fades to a close.
7. Blackout (3:16)
Tremolo string swells and harp are joined by woodwinds as the music takes a slightly dramatic turn. A new melody is played on flute and then piano. Minor and major strings slowly build to a sustain, where a new chord is built with the orchestra, ascending with flutes to create a sense of wonder. Low string rumblings lay underneath some high string swells, and it all calms down for a brief moment and then the piano comes back with the new theme (which we'll refer to as the Blackout Theme) as it draws upwards to a close.
8. Palm Readings (4:12)
The orchestra starts out softly, but then slowly begins to rise, working to a crescendo which ends quickly, and we hear the Blackout Theme once more on piano, with soft tremolo strings. The track now starts to play a very soft version of the melody from "Hello (I Love You)" on woodwinds backed by high strings, but it never attains the main chorus of the song. Faint strings bring the track to a close.
9. I Love the World (0:52)
A soft version of the playful melody is heard on piano, which leads into the Family Theme, while backed by strings.
10. Help! (1:20)
Strings start to crescendo and build into the main Mimzy theme on woodwinds, and then a large building chord starts to take shape with tremolo strings. It climaxes at a single sustained note, and then notes descend downward and the track ends with low strings.
11. I Have to Look (4:09)
Harp and strings play a variation on the main theme, before it is heard clearly with flute and vibes, backed by strings. Stronger strings come in, and now the dramatic Wonder Theme is heard, and it builds upwards, gaining strength in a way that many Lord of the Rings fans will find familiar. It crests on a dramatic note, and now percussion and rhythmic chords create additional tension. A minor version of the Wonder Theme is briefly heard because the orchestra works upwards into another rhythmic moment, and variations on the Wonder Theme and Family Themes can be heard. Now high strings and low woodwinds play off each other as the anxiety builds.
12. Can I Talk? (5:25)
Ascending string chords and harp open the track, which sounds like a backing of the Wonder Theme. Now an oboe comes in, playing a small melody. Soon the strings come in with their own ascending motif. The track begins to take a start-and-stop pattern, clearly providing underscore for some dialogue in the film. But it starts to increase in intensity, and then another ascending tremolo string chord builds up to the Blackout Theme. It builds upwards again, and then the strings begin descending downwards, and then they take over with a strong motif that quickly goes dissonant and then builds upward once more, leading into strong string chord pulses. The pulses ascend upwards into a climax, and then timpani rolls and rhythmic strings create a dramatic ending to the track.
13. Eyes (2:15)
Very high strings start out the track, with woodwinds slowly adding some pulsing below. Soft strings and woodwinds quietly set the tone, and now the orchestra starts to build up in a very warm moment, with a major version that is a slight variation on the Wonder Theme. There is a hint of tension as the strings builds upwards slightly before the track ends.
14. The Tear (4:07)
Pulsing French horns and steady strings work their way up the track, resulting in another climax that quickly subsides and brings us back down, only to bring us up, with a muted brass fanfare. Now the woodwinds come in, and then the strings start building up once more. The main theme is heard, slightly faster now as there is a little more urgency. Another string chord builds upwards briefly, and then the Blackout Theme is heard first on high strings, then stronger with the full string section. Major and minor chords alternate, building into another string chord climax that hangs over with a high sustain.
15. Through the Looking Glass (5:02)
The final score cue on the album, strong brass and strings set a dramatic tone, and we hear the Blackout Theme. The strings start a hopeful ascension, hinting at the melody in the song, but moving upwards. It's an optimistic feeling, and it segues into the Blackout Theme tenderly rendered on piano. Dramatic string chords break in, before dropping out and going back to the Blackout Theme on the piano. Now the orchestra emotionally takes over as it all builds to a dramatic moment. The main theme is heard strongly on the strings, and the Blackout Theme can be heard briefly before another dramatic Lord of the Rings-styled build up of strings leads to an incomplete-feeling finale.
16. "Hello (I Love You)" - Roger Waters (6:16)
A child whispers "Is there anybody in there?" as the song starts. Written by Shore with Roger Waters, the music is dreamy and haunting. Moments of the song were first heard melodically in "Palm Readings", and it makes a nice reprise although we haven't heard that melody for a while at this point. It's hard to tell if there were any other moments from the song that appear in the score, but with ascending moments, and alternating major/minor chords, there are definite parallels. It's moody and yet upbeat and there is even a reference to "Dark Side of the Moon", which Pink Floyd fans will appreciate as well as a lengthy guitar solo.
The Last Mimzy opens in theaters on March 23, 2007. The soundtrack will be in stores on March 20, from New Line Records. Special thanks to Jason Cienkus at New Line Cinema for his help with this article.