Music Composed and Conducted by: Pierre Adenot
Movie Genre: Fantasy
Movie Release: 2014
Soundtrack Release: 2014
Label: Quartet Records
__ SPOILER ALERT __
“Without the marvelous musical touch of Pierre Adenot, it would be impossible for the movie to enchant its viewers and make them believe they are traveling back to 1740 France. The beating heart of this ambitious production is certainly due to its absolutely wonderful music!”
Few fairytales gained the fame of “Beauty and the Beast”, a story that since its first publication in 1740 France, enchanted young and old alike. Its film adaptation in 2014 was made by an expensive French production, directed by Christophe Gans. It was based on the fairytale’s first publication in 1740 by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and was more extensive, complicated, with additional imaginary elements in comparison to the simplified one published later in 1757 by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, which became the more popular version of the fairytale. Jean Cocteau’s 1946 movie adaptation of “La Belle et la Bete” was based on the 1757 version of the story. Furthermore, Disney’s newest live action “Beauty and the Beast” is also based on the same version.
One can be seduced from the colorful feast in film sets and costumes, however, for as long as this particular cinematic journey lasts, the music is the only one in charge for the emotional stimulus. It is music that will guide the viewer and give meaning to even the slightest progress of the story. Without the proper musical accompaniment, the movie couldn’t acquire the soul needed in order to affect the viewers and make the shots take flight. One would wonder on which genre does this movie belongs to. Is it a fantasy? A romance? A drama? An adventure? A Thriller? This is not a movie that is limited in one genre or even a combination of two. Perhaps, this is the reason why it is so fascinating. The Beauty and the Beast integrates all the above genres by having strong elements of each one of them. It is very crucial for the music’s success to be able to find a way to surface all the above conditions at the right time and at the proper quantity. The composer’s tools for creating the score, consist of a significantly large orchestra, without the participation of any synthetic sounds, two choirs, one consisting of adult voices and one of children voices, boys in particular, with the instrumental addition of a cimbalom that brings a European touch to the story and underlines the movie’s era.
Pierre Adenot’s score for “Beauty and the Beast” combines musical aspects that define both characters of the movie’s title: from beautiful and romantic, the music can become adventurous, mysterious and terrifying. There are two different musical worlds in progress: the first is about a beautiful girl charmed by a beast and the second about a beast hiding a dark past. Two musical worlds so different, yet so attractive. Two musical worlds that interact and create a seducing and well rounded musical entity with finesse, sampling the exceptional level of the European composers.
A mother is reading a fairytale to her two children just before they fall asleep. As she pages through the story, narrative comes to life as the camera brings everything the mother is reading to her children in front of our eyes. Piano’s introduction in “Il était une fois un riche marchand” (#1) prologues the movie by performing a sweet and tender theme for Beauty’s family, which will soon be performed by the whole orchestra, when the piano stops. At 1:16 in the track, three ships of a rich merchant, Beauty’s father, wreck and this will signal a change on the musical course of the track. The storm that sends the ships to the bottom of the ocean is attributed by the heavy sounds of the brass and percussion sections of the orchestra.
The first sign of adventure comes at the end of the track “Perducas” (#2), where Beauty’s father runs out of an infamous bar chased by some thugs to whom his first born son owes money. Μusic’s volume keeps rising and so does the suspense as the thugs are trying to track him. The chase music stops abruptly when he escapes them. He rides his horse and heads back home by passing through the woods during a snowstorm. Unfortunately, he loses his way. His horse is injured and he arrives at a castle that wasn’t visible before. The music accompanying his way back home in “Dans la tourmente” (#3), is covered by a veil of mystery. It’s as if the music is implying an invisible force that pulls him to the castle. It is night time with a full moon once Beauty’s father faces the castle when the Beast’s musical signature is heard for the first time. It is a theme performed by the brass section of the orchestra at the beginning of “Le Château de la Bête” (#4), which suggests the spiritual presence of the beast to the place, rather than his physical one. The cimbalom along with the brass, under the moonlight, brings a gothic sense to the atmosphere of the music and reveals that this place is bewitched, hides secrets and has a glorious past. It’s perhaps the most important thematic presence in the score, which comes back whenever the circumstances demand for it.
The dramatic theme at 0:41 in “Le Château de la Bête” (#4) reveals that a tragedy occurred in the past. It will not be the only time this theme is heard during the score. We’ll hear it later on, in “La biche” (#11), “Sur le lac gelé” (#13) and elsewhere, always due to an emotional reason. However short it is, it can create an intense dramatic feeling, since it is characterized by a tragic quality appropriate for the unpleasant aspects of a story like this one. More details for this important theme will be revealed to the following paragraphs. The merchant, Beauty’s father, leaves the abandoned castle by cutting a red rose from an unusually big rosebush. The music in “Le rosier” (#6) tells the viewer of the film that this act is of great significance, as the drums suggest before the cutting of the rose at 1:25. Immediately after, the beast appears for the first time and leaps at Beauty’s father demanding a life for the rose, which is the most sacred thing he possesses.
When the Beauty finds out about the Beast’s threat against her father, she decides to offer her life instead and flees heading to the Beast’s castle. At 1:07 in “Départ chez la Bête” (#7) the dramatic theme that was mentioned earlier is heard once more. Beauty shares a scene with her father, in which she is very stressed and announces to him in her own words: “I will not become the reason of your own death too”, since during her birth her mother passed away. Her father is devastated from her decision but Beauty does not give him any room for further discussion and runs to find the Beast’s horse. At 1:57 of the same track we hear again the Beast’s theme. It is when the Beauty says the secret phrase that will make the horse take her to the Beast. Then a road is unfolded in front of her with trees setting aside in order to let her pass. Here the Beast’s theme displays his domination over the woods in order to bring the Beauty to him.
The first meeting between the Beauty and the Beast at the dining room of the castle in “Premier repas” (#9) is dominated by music that displays the goosebumps and horror the Beauty experiences due to his presence. You might wonder why the Beast’s theme does not dominate this track during his first physical presence next to Beauty. There was no reason for such a thing, since the Beast’s theme does not aim to point out his physical presence but instead the spiritual dominion over the place. On this track, the music expresses Beauty’s horror and the Beast’s theme is heard once and only for a bit when the Beauty sees his reflection on a glass and she is left breathless. Their second and third meeting do not have musical background. There is no need for music, since Beauty is not afraid of the Beast anymore and she is used to his ghastly appearance. In “Cache-Cache” (#10), a new playful and light musical theme is heard and refers to the harmless little creatures that live inside the castle and remain hidden from the Beauty but observe her every step. Before the curse fell upon the castle and its occupant, these creatures were puppies. In the beginning of the track “La biche” (#11), we hear for the first time a new theme that will be difficult to comprehend its role at this specific point of the movie. Beauty faces a deer with golden skin which leads her to the bewitched rosebush from which her father cut the rose. There she finds the tomb of a young woman. We should listen to the next track, “Une autre valse” (#12) when the same theme comes back as a waltz, in order to comprehend the significance of its first reference, which is of purely romantic character. It is a reference to Beauty’s change of feeling towards the Beast.
An important element of Adenot’s romantic approach to the score is the way he selects to musically outline the most crucial scene between the Beauty and the Beast. It is a dancing scene that becomes the reason for a waltz. Βeauty touches the Beast for the first time and then they dance together. This so important scene is also a significant moment for the music since it lets the viewer know of the romance that gets underway. In “Une autre valse” (#12) a waltz is heard, which is thoroughly composed: it is not a waltz that gradually accelerates and leads to an explosive ending. At this point, the feelings between the Beauty and the Beast neither overflow nor are ultimately expressed in order to require the musical care of such a king of waltz. The composer wisely writes a waltz which is delicate and beautiful, yet restrained. It keeps a steady level of expressiveness that never moves away from and it isn’t driven by impulsive or impetuous expressions. The music during the dancing scene must portray the awareness of a romance, not its ending, where in all likelihood love triumphs. Unfortunately, Adenot’s waltz for the dancing scene has been rejected by the director and so it is not heard during the scene. On its place, another waltz has been chosen which was composed by Brian Keane, not for the movie though (“Brian Keane – Dark History Waltz” #24). This selection offers nothing substantial to the musical flow of the movie and it’s not at all as satisfactory as Adenot’s waltz. On the contrary, it breaks away from the previous and the following music and thus creates a strange and alienating musical feeling. The decision of replacing Adenot’s waltz composed at a scene so crucial like this one has been unsuccessful and quite absurd.
As we watch the movie, just before the end titles, we hear for the first time Adenot’s waltz for the Βeauty and the Βeast, without understanding its critical role, since we haven’t heard it during the dancing scene for which it was destined in the first place. Instead, if we listen to the music without watching the movie, with Adenot’s waltz right where it was supposed to be, when the time comes for hearing it again just before the end credits, we understand its underlining message: Beauty and the Beast are now a couple. The repetition of their joint theme, following the first time that was heard, can only signal a happy ending and a shared future. The placing of the proper theme at the proper time during the movie’s flow holds always a crucial role and must not be done carelessly. In “La Belle et la Bête (générique fin)” (#22), we enjoy the couple’s waltz for the last time. It is such a pity that the director decided to use a different waltz from the one composed by Adenot and traumatize the movie’s music by diminishing its dynamics. Probably unwillingly, he also weakens the music intervention during the end credits, where for the first time the viewer listens to Adenot’s waltz and finds it difficult to make any sensible correlation.
“Sur le lac gelé” (#13) consists of two themes: Beast’s theme and a dramatic theme that was heard before in “Le Château de la Bête” (#4) and the end of the track “La biche” (#11). The Beast goes out to the castle’s garden for hunting and Beauty follows him without being noticed. Then he returns with his prey and devours it. This atrocious sight scares the Beauty because she realizes his carnivore nature. At this scene, the dramatic theme grieves for the Beast’s monstrous nature and focuses on the prince’s tragedy, who has become the object of a curse that transformed him into a hideous beast. The same theme is used for a scene with a golden deer in “La biche” (#11) and for a scene showing the nature of the Beast in “Sur le lac gelé” (#13). There must be some king of connection between the two scenes and this particular theme. Only by listening to “Chasse et mort de la princesse” (#15) we’ll find out what’s really all about. If you listen carefully, the musical notes are revealing everything.
“Chasse et mort de la princesse” (#15) is one of the tracks of the score that really stand out. The sad children voices at the beginning, as we watch a golden deer moving through the woods on a sunny day, reveal the dramatic happenings that will follow. However, the children’s choir reveals something further: during a flashback, the prince and his friends hunt a golden deer, which was considered a most wanted rare trophy. But this is not just a deer. At the moment when the children’s voices are heard, the golden deer is attributed to a sacred quality. The golden deer is the forest nymph that wanted to taste the love of men and transformed herself into a woman, who became prince’s love interest. The dramatic peak that follows the vocals at 1:56 signals the tragic death of the nymph, by the prince’s golden arrow. This is when we hear again the dramatic theme previously presented in “La biche” (#11) and “Sur le lac gelé” (#13), which finally can be named the mourning theme for the forest nymph. At the end of the track, another dramatic peak will signal the prince’s punishment for killing by mistake his beloved in a tragic way. This time the instrumentation of the Beast’s theme changes and it is performed by strings having an exceptional sorrowful mood. Nymph’s father, the god of the forest, curses the prince for murdering his daughter. Prince’s eternal punishment will be his transformation into a beast until someone is found, who will truly love him despite his horrifying appearance.
Mystery is stated in “Le danger” (#16), as the bandits along with the Beauty’s two brothers have reached Beast’s castle in order to ransack it. The especially neat moments of adventure towards the end of the track “Pillage” (#17) involve the castle’s looting by the bandits. The Βeast watches them as they leave with the valuables and becomes furious. Time has come for the three sleeping stone giants to be awaken and avenge for Beast’s sake. Beast’s theme repetitions is the musical signal for the giants to wake up and kill the bandits who desecrated the castle. The magic that possesses the castle is finally revealed in all of its greatness! This part of the music is not included in the released CD but instead, included is the music that covers the ending of the bandits’ pursuit by the giants in “Perducas contre la Bête” (#19). This is where the leader of the bandits, Perducas, sticks the golden arrow to the Beast, the one which the prince once killed the forest nymph. Then, for the second time the mourning theme for the forest nymph’s death is repeated. Fate has chosen both of them to be hurt by the same arrow. As the Beast falls down injured, the stone giants are falling apart and the garden’s foliage grows rapidly with killing intentions for everyone. Beauty and her two brothers try to bring the Beast inside the castle in order to heal him in the healing pond at Beauty’s room. The ending of the track underlines their agony as they are running for the castle while being chased by the foliage of the garden. The imposing beginning of the track “Métamorphose” (#20) with the deep brass describes the nightmare that hunts them. The foliage has entered the castle and chases them up to Beauty’s bedroom. The suspense reaches its peak, but when the Beauty reveals her love to the Beast, the curse that burdened him is lifted and the prince gains back his human appearance. This happens with the musical accompaniment of nymph’s mourning theme, heard previously in “Chasseet mort de la princesse” (#15). Her face on her grave is now smiling, knowing that her beloved is free at last from the curse.
The song at the end credits gives the perfect epilogue to the musical narration of the movie. The CD release consists of two versions of the song performed by Yoann Freget, one in French and one in English. The French version outweighs the English one in terms of emotional impact and Freget’s performance is hopelessly romantic. So the story ends, with music that is more than beautiful, multifaceted and totally matches the fairytale visualized by the movie. Pierre Adenot composes music that highlights Beauty’s heartbeat and Beast’s imposing nature. The soundtrack of the movie invites you in a musical feast, introducing a French composer at his best! He didn’t only met the expectations for this demanding musical mission, but also verified music’s powerful role in storytelling on the big screen when it is a product of mature thinking. “La Belle et la Bete” (2014) has a score that stands out on its own when it is detached from the picture, and quite frankly it can make its listener recall the frames of the film that he watched. This is the reason why it can be described as especially unique, wonderfully charming and significantly interesting. What a great accomplishment it is when a soundtrack is able to tell the story without being in need of the moving images!
01. Il était une fois un riche marchand (2:30)
02. Perducas (3:10)
03. Dans la tourmente (2:35)
04. Le Château de la Bête (3:07)
05. Tadums (1:14)
06. Le rosier (1:49)
07. Départ chez la Bête (3:01)
08. La princesse et les lucioles (2:15)
09. Premier repas (2:42)
10. Cache-Cache (2:15)
11. La biche (2:32)
12. Une autre valse (2:53)
13. Sur le lac gelé (1:50)
14. Revenez papa chéri (3:11)
15. Chasse et mort de la princesse (4:04)
16. Le danger (2:55)
17. Pillage (3:50)
18. Dieu de la forêt (2:04)
19. Perducas contre la Bête (4:57)
20. Métamorphose (4:04)
21. Épilogue (1:13)
22. La Belle et la Bête (générique fin) (4:14)
23. Valse Tadum (1:40)
24. Brian Keane – Dark History Waltz (2:56) – Composed by Brian Keane
25. Sauras tu m’aimer (4:39) – Performed by Yoann Freget
26. How Can You Love Me? (4:39) – Performed by Yoann Freget
Total Time: 76:37
The tracks that stand out are noted with bold letters
Listen clips from the score here.
Score Rating: * * * * 1/2
From the Recording Sessions: