Soundtrack Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
(Original Motion Picture Score)
Composer: James Newton Howard
Running Time: 43 min.
Released: 2012




Considering The Hunger Games was released on DVD barely a week ago, I figured now would be a good time to review what is, in my opinion, one of the finest aspects of the film: the score, composed by none other than J.N.H. I’ve encountered several less-than-favorable reviews of it, and the most common criticism seems to be that score is too minimalistic. I beg to differ: the score is minimalistic, but perfectly so. Howard invests thought and emotion where lesser men would have settled for cheap thrills. And frankly, I find it incredible that most listeners can’t appreciate that. Their loss, I suppose. Here’s hoping it gets some recognition come Oscar season – J.N.H. deserves no less.

Katniss Afoot and The Train are perfect examples of the quiet beauty that permeates this soundtrack; while Horn of Plenty captures the pomp and grandeur of the Capitol with choir, drums, and a fanfare of trumpets. The Countdown is a gripping bit of work, accompanying one of the most nail-bitingly intense sequences in the entire film. And then there’s Rue’s Farewell: for me, this piece is the highlight of the album. Lovely. Just lovely. I won’t even try to describe it further, because I can’t. You have to listen to it yourself. With Muttations, Howard gives us an action cue firing on all cylinders – grim, daring, and frenetic. The final track, Tenuous Winners, swells with triumph and relief, only to assume a darker tone in the closing seconds. Because, after all, the story isn’t over yet.

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6 thoughts on “Soundtrack Review: The Hunger Games”

  1. Rue’s Farewell was probably very pretty, but I was to busy crying to pay much attention to the music… :p
    Very good post, I am looking forward to hearing it, and I bet it was as good as the movie.

    1. Subconsciously, you probably were paying attention to the music – you just didn’t know it. :) Howard’s music is part of what makes that scene so powerful. There was audible sobbing in the theater I attended…

  2. *wants to see this film and listen to this score*

    I agree on minimalism. There is a different between minimalism and simplistic. Wall-E by Thomas Newman is another good example of minimalism used well. It captures the sci-fi feel without lacking in depth.

  3. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t even notice the soundtrack, except maybe for Katniss and Rue’s whistles which well-up tears in my eyes just thinking about them! I still have my Blockbuster @Home copy, so I’ll watch it again and try to pay more attention to the soundtrack. It’s a good thing I don’t have a due date hovering over my head for this movie, because I’ve already kept it long enough to watch it twice! One of my co-workers at Dish thinks I’m crazy because I’ve been talking about The Hunger Games non-stop starting from when I finished the book a month ago. Eventually, he’ll give in, watch it, and love it!

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