Release date: April 10th 2012
Running time: 56:27 minutes
Composer: Alan Menken
I love a fairytale. Fairytale films, no matter what form they take, always have a great accompanying soundtrack and Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror is no exception.
Based on the traditional tale of Snow White, Mirror Mirror is told from the point of view of Queen Clementianna (Julia Roberts), who claims it’s her story, not Snow Whites!
Such a strong story needs an equally strong soundtrack, and from Opening, we’re led into a magical world. Chromatic percussion, heavy, layered strings and woodwind accompanied by a female choir create a magical, uplifting tone which flows without hesitation, complimented greatly by the timbre of the chosen combination of instruments.
The melodies are simple and repetitive, and instantly stay with you. This theme carries on into the opening of the second track, Snow White And The Kingdom, using the same instrumentation, which is accompanied soon into the track by percussion and quirky woodwind solos – it is clearly inspired by world music. The combination of crescendo’s followed by diminuendos and the changes in tempo add variety to the composition.
Love At First Sight continues much the same. It is a typical Disney-esque track, with beautifully resolving cadences and soft instrumentation. Beauty Treatment is a little more upbeat, with a walking bass line provided by the brass, and scaelic melodies provided by the woodwind and voice. Chromatic scales and short motifs lead us through this short track (only 1:10 in length) into The Ball, a Waltz with memorable string melodies which displays grandeur. Again the melodies used are repetitive, a great technique as they stay with you throughout. Midway, the tempo picks up slightly.
The Queen Wants Snow Killed takes a more serious, sinister tone, with dramatic low voice combined with repetitive two note rising and falling accompaniment, before becoming even darker through the use of slow high strings, cymbals and low, brass. The piece comes to a low climax with much of the same. The appearance of earlier melodies are audible, yet with a slightly different character in terms of tone and expression.
The Dwarves seems to continue with a slightly darker tone, and the low brass and string walking bass lines and piziccato strings accompanied by stacatto motifs create the feeling of movement. It instantly made me envisage the dwarves at work. The Training uses the same instrumentation as previously, yet the flow is maintained through the use of percussion. Again the melodies are bold and majestic.
Dueling creates a feeling of confrontation, and is war like, with the brass taking the melody to begin with. It is like a fanfare. The mood quickly progresses and the introduction of percussion quickens the pace of the music. From here the tempo slows down, and then again quickens. It continues much like this throughout the rest of the track. It creates the feeling of a battle.
Love Potion is a beautiful Piano waltz, accompanied by sweeping strings and short woodwind motifs. The pizziccato strings and percussion, and following brief woodwind motifs, add variation to the piece in a call and response type format. It then develops to a quicker tempo, fast paced and flowing.
Following tracks such as Breaking The Spell and Beast continue with much of the same, before we see the opening theme return in Happy End, which climaxes in a mass of instrumentation, ending in true Disney-like, fairy tale style! Very typical of Menken!
I Believe In Love (Mirror Mirror Mix and Evil Queen Mix) are two vocal pieces that end the soundtrack. Very much pop in style, they are heavily influenced by world music through the rhythmic styles and instrumentation used.
The soundtrack to Mirror Mirror serves its purpose well. The instrumentation and styles used throughout compliment the themes of the story. It’s not Menken’s best work, and nowhere near the standard of previous compositions he has done for Disney, but it is delicate at times, dark at others and listenable throughout. I’ll be humming the melodies for days to come I’m sure.
Phil is a 27-year-old classically trained musician from Sheffield with qualifications in Popular Music, Classical Music and a BA (Hons) in Creative Music Technology and Sound Recording. He likes nothing better than locking himself in the studio and composing music of all genres.
Phil became interested in composing after learning how to play the Cello and Clarinet at a young age, and has never looked back since. His favourite composer is Danny Elfman, whose unconventional harmonies and rhythms in scores such as Edward Scissorhands still manage to bring a tear or two to his eye.
You can find him on Twitter @PhilBlanckley.