Music Composed by: Stuart Hancock
Movie Genre: Fantasy, Thriller
Movie Release: 2011
Soundtrack Release: 2011
Label: MovieScore Media

A striking gem of a score,
carrying the signature of Stuart Hancock

A little boy is growing up in the forest along with his grandfather, getting away from civilization. Their everyday life is spent in survival lessons. After years of living in the wilderness, the grown up Rowan will learn everything he needs to survive on his own in the forest, nourished and sheltered by nature, since the time to be separated from his grandfather is not far away. And then, he will discover an unseen world, another world beneath our own. Rowan will uncover a shadowy world of mythical gods and savageness, that hardly separates man from beast. The imaginary stories of his childhood wasn’t so imaginary after all. With the guidance of a hunting hawk, Rowan will have to choose between reality and imagination.

“Hawk” is a serious attempt to create a mini fantasy movie, totaling 38 minutes in length, created out of Welsh legends, taking advantage of the beautiful natural landscapes of Wales, where the shooting of the movie took place. A small story told in a big way, that’s exactly what Stuart Hancock achieved by composing the score of this little known film. The score of “Hawk” stands out for its complexity, its size and its sheer beauty, impressions that usually don’t refer to the expected kind of score for a production like this one. Fortunately, synthetic means are absent. The score is performed by an ensemble entirely orchestral, grandly symphonic at times, creating an impressive sonic environment, where a solo voice or a choir is added. The score is performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra, Serendipity choir and the solo voice of soprano Anna Show. The lyrics were freely adapted from Taliesin, a Welsh poet and bard of the sixth century, and are sung in the original medieval Welsh language in which they were written. Stuart Hancock succeeded in convincing the producer and the director of the film to spend more money on the score budget: it doesn’t matter how expensive is the production of a film or not, as long as there is a beautifully performed and expensive sounding score. As good a sound as one can achieve with sampled instruments, nowadays, it will still pale in comparison to the magic you get from musicians and singers performing live.

Stuart Hancock incorporates many of the film’s individual attributes, like the beauty of the landscape, the dark atmosphere, the imaginary element and how it affects the development of the story, the element of horror, the brutality of some shots, and translates them into musical notes. The soundtrack works as the faithful servant of the happenings presented in the film and outlines a cloak of medieval mysticism, that depends extremely on the vocals, which play a pretty big role in the score. The core of the music is the theme presented in “Flight of the Hawk” (#1) and accompanies the scene of a hawk flying over the landscape of South Wales at the beginning of the film. The voices reveal that the landscape is a living organism. The beauty of the music is crystal clear, but also vivid is a touch of tragedy to this theme. The hero of the film, Rowan, was trained as a hunter from his grandfather. It is a little boy characterized by the innocence of his age. A small hunter that still sustains the tenderness and sensitivity that is expected from a little boy. Particularly vivid of his childhood nature is the spontaneous feeling evoked by the music in “The Little Hunter” (#2). The musical reference to the little boy starts with the most delicate and sensitive instrument of the orchestra, the harp.

Rowan has begun to sense the world that surrounds him. Atmosphere evoking the mysterious unknown is found in “The Land Holds Many Secrets” (#3). A lyrical repetition of the theme we heard in the first track, with the addition of the soprano’s voice, comes to “The Peace of the Underworld” (#4). The descend into the darkness starts in “Journey to the Underworld” (#5). The most dark and mysterious corridors of the score are spotted right here. The eerie appearance of the soprano’s voice towards the end of the track signals a development of particular importance script-wise. The percussion in the first half of the track “The Burial” (#6) brings closer the danger, until the coming of the vocals on the second half of the track, acquaints our hero with the divine. A sense of vertigo is felt by the usage of the violins in “Blood Must be Repaid” (#7), leading to a crescendo. Then, a cat and mouse game unfolds in the forest, as is clearly suggested by tracks like “A Hunter of My Own” (#8) and “The Wild Hunt” (#9). The voices of the choir in “The Wild Hunt” (#9) reveal that the showdown is closer than one can imagine.

A musical thunder of nightmarish suspense strikes at the beginning of the track “The Savage Dawn” (#10) and after a respite, the choir brings back the nightmare towards the end of the track. Depending on the performance of the choir, the vocals have the ability to heal the wounds and relief the soul of the film’s hero, as it is happening in “The Seed Falls” (#12). Music brings tranquility to the atmosphere of the movie, paving the way for a musical statement about a tortured soul who finally finds the coveted peace. This comes in “The Rising Soul (End Credits)” (#13), a riveting epilogue where orchestra and voices sweep the air with waves of epic lyricism, impressive mysticism, sublime purity and quivering beauty back to back! Stuart Hancock creates a distillation of the entire score in this piece of music, which can be considered as one of the best pieces of film music written in 2011! If you are not familiar with composer Stuart Hancock, then this score will surely be your ideal first contact with a most talented composer, who will offer you an incredibly beautiful journey in the world of film music.

Track List:

01. Flight of the Hawk (3:12)
02. The Little Hunter (2:54)
03. The Land Holds Many Secrets (1:43)
04. Yn Annwfyn y Diwyth (The Peace of the Underworld) (3:37)
05. Journey Into the Underworld (2:53)
06. The Burial (1:43)
07. Blood Must Be Repaid (2:10)
08. A Hunter of My Own (1:26)
09. Torrit Mynudawl (The Wild Hunt) (4:56)
10. Wrth War Wrth Wrys (The Savage Dawn) (3:04)
11. Revelations (1:29)
12. The Seed Falls (1:48)
13. The Rising Soul (End Credits) (3:22)
14. The Legend of Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed (bonus track) (3:47)

Total Time: 38:00

The tracks that stand out are noted with bold letters.

Score Rating: * * * * 1/2

Behind the Scenes: