Let me admit right off the bat that I’m not a TWILIGHT fan. What little I read of Stephenie Meyer’s puerile prose in the first book offended me as a writer. I’ve seen the first two films and I find them to be poorly acted pabulum for the eyes and ears. And yet somehow three wildly different composers have been able to tap into something beneath the surface of the stilted dialogue and whiny adolescent pining to create unique musical landscapes for each of the films in the series.
For Howard Shore, scoring THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE meant a “responsibility to the entire arc of the story.” As he told Doug Adams in his interview for FSM Online, “even though I’m coming in in the middle, I’m thinking about the beginning and the end—even though I’m not involved in those parts.”
Shore’s solution was to relate his music to the earlier scores by combining Carter Burwell’s electric guitar contemporary sounds with the Gothic romanticism of Alexandre Desplat’s entry while laying the groundwork for later composers. What could have easily resulted in a poorly-disguised mashup in the hands of a lesser composer instead becomes a score that feels like an extension of the sonic worlds created by Burwell and Desplat, yet retains Shore’s unique voice while still feeling fresh.
The “focus” of the score “was more on the tribal aspects of the werewolves and the vampires,” Shore said in an interview with Daniel Schweiger for iFMagazine. While the Cullen vampire clan and the werewolves each have their own thematic material, it is the music for the creation of Victoria’s (Bryce Dallas Howard) newborn vampires that makes the greatest impression in the action cues. With its combination of tribal percussion, electric guitar, and a propulsive four-note motif, this brutal music starts the album in “Riley” with the creation of the newborns and comes to a head in the thrilling music for the dramatic battle between Victoria and Edward.
The most prevalent theme in the score belongs to the contemporary love theme for Bella and Edward. The melody comes from the end title song, “Eclipse (All Yours),” written with Emily Haines and James Shaw of the group Metric. The song was recorded first and Shore’s weaves the plaintive theme throughout the score, so that when the song is heard at the end of “Wedding Plans,” it feels organic and earned, not merely tacked on to sell a compilation album.
My favorite theme is assigned to the werewolf Jacob, a descending melodic line filled with pain and unrequited love for Bella. First heard in “Imprinting” played on Shaws’s eerie guitar, the melody is later featured in “First Kiss” and in a haunting piano rendition in “Jacob Black”. The theme plays tug-of-war with the “relationship” theme in “The Kiss” as Bella tries to decide between Jacob and Edward.
Fans of Shore’s LORD OF THE RINGS scores will hear echoes of those harmonies and orchestrations throughout much of the score’s darker moments, especially in the arpeggiated motifs and French horn statement of Victoria’s music in “Rosalie”. But that is due more to Shore’s mature sound than any blatant recycling of material.
What amazes me about Shore’s excellent score is how he can find the drama and emotion underneath these characters, because it’s certainly not evident on the page or on screen. But such is the genius of Shore’s talent.
At 61 minutes, the score nicely fills out most of the CD’s running time. And what these two clips cannot do is tell you how satisfying the soundtrack album is from start to finish. Fans of the books and films (and even those of us who aren’t) can easily follow the story through Shore’s evocative music. The TWILIGHT scores just keep getting better and better and Shore’s ECLIPSE is the strongest yet.