Monday, November 30, 2015

Spotlight On...The Hunger Games

The newest Spotlight On takes a look back at the Hunger Games franchise.
Let's take a look back on the Hunger Games films score by score, and may the odds be ever in your favor. 

The Hunger Games (2012)
Music by James Newton Howard
With the first film in the franchise, the score became a collaboration between James Newton Howard, Arcade Fire and T-Bone Burnett.  In the end, most of the score remained forgettable with two notable exceptions: the Capitol fanfare (Horn of Plenty), and Rue’s Farewell.  The latter composed by Howard has become the de facto emotional/rebellion theme for the film series.  Many parts of the score incorporate a folk/Appalachian sound, with rough electronics and percussion added for the actual games.  The identity and use of score thankfully improve in each film.  (Just listen to: The Train, Horn of Plenty, Rue’s Farewell, Tenuous Winners/Returning Home) 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Music by James Newton Howard
In this sequel, Howard has some reprises and expansions of the past themes.  Rue’s Farewell and Horn of Plenty show up throughout the score, in addition to a new love theme.  The score contains plenty of ambient sounds and a better grasp on the action music.  (Just listen to: Katniss, I Need You, Arena Crumbles)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014)
Music by James Newton Howard
Howard nicely reflects the moody atmosphere even more in this sequel score.  Here he builds upon previous themes, while capturing new emotions with violin and female vocal solos.  The best new addition is The Hanging Tree (not written by JNH) but adapted and incorporated throughout.  Easily the strongest of the scores.  (Just listen to: District 12, The Arsenal, The Hanging Tree, Air Raid Drill, District 8 Hospital)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015)
Music by James Newton Howard
Continuing the darker tone, the score adds more emotional beats through solo performances and the action material works well.  We get a few emotional reprises of past themes - Rue’s Farewell and the Deep in the Meadow lullaby heard in the first film.  Hanging Tree surprisingly isn't referenced.  It’s another strong JNH score and a great way to end this set of films.  (Just listen to: Prim Visits Peeta, Sewer Attack, Primrose, There Are Worse Games To Play/Deep In The Meadow/The Hunger Games Suite)

Check out the others in the SPOTLIGHT ON.... SERIES!

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