IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN PARTY PEOPLE!! Oh wait.... yes....it seems I am a bit late on this one. Better late than never right? Well, James Newton Howard decided to give me quite a task with this score, given how theres an extra 11 tracks on this album than the one for the first film. In case you are new to us, we always do a very in-depth score review of The Hunger Games films. You can check out our first one HERE, which is MUCH shorter than this one. In fact, some tracks from the first film do make an appearance in this score album so HOORAAAY FOR CONTINUITY!!
I wouldn't call this so much a score review as a score analysis. Not only did I analyze the score tracks on the album, but I also analyzed every bit of score that exists in Catching Fire. This means all of the in-between stuff not reflected on the album. I mean, do you even WANT to know all this information? I have no clue, but I love scores and I love The Hunger Games, so there it is. If you have the score at home, feel free to follow along as you might learn some cool things about the score you didn't know before!
Jump to the end for some interesting facts about the score such as the instruments used and a quote from Francis Lawrence.
Here we have the opening of the film. Sweeping shots of the cold and bitter forests outside of District 12. The first shot of Katniss is perched on a rock and we also hear a very Native American musical hook, which uses the ethnic flute. Catching Fire has had some Native American influences, and now I completely understand why. In the album notes it’s referred to as the “ethnic flute”, but it turns out that could mean any kind of the many flutes of the world’s cultures. There is indeed a Native American flute, and listening to what it sounds like I’d put my money on that one. Although I wouldn’t really classify it specifically as the Katniss theme, it does seem to show up in Katniss related scenes.
2. I Had To Do That
This track begins with an impact that startles. Katniss’ PTSD kicks in and hallucinates when she tries to take down a turkey. Enter the female solo vocals that is what I like to refer to as Katniss’ theme (we will be referring to this theme a lot!) These “ooohs” pop up very frequently throughout the film and are always associated with major events that happen to Katniss (The woman behind these vocals is Sunna Wehrmeijer, whose name is all over the credits of this score album. Check her out!). In this track, Katniss’ theme starts after Gale calms her down after her flashback episode and the montage of them leaving the woods.
I really appreciate James Newton Howard establishing this theme for Katniss, not just for the haunting melody and overall tone that sort of describes her situation but because it is insanely similar to the female vocal line in the first film when Katniss is hunting. In fact, the vocal line seems to be in the same range as the one in Catching Fire, just a slightly different melody. Not only are we finding continuity throughout the film, but clearly in the score as well.
3. We Have Visitors
In this menacing track, we hear the introduction of Snow’s theme. It’s very ominous, and definitely very Vader-y. There are two other elements in this track that scare the pants off me: the rise of intense violins in the middle, and extremely creepy piano toward the end. In case you wanted to know, the rise in violins is when Snow tells Katniss, “Imagine thousands upon thousands of your people dead." The creepy piano I mentioned is when Snow gives Katniss his creepy blood-smell-covering rose. Personally, it's everything I’ve wanted for the score for such an important scene in the books.
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The next part of the score happens at the beginning of the Victory Tour coverage with Caesar Flickerman. We get "The Horn of Plenty", which I am glad to see they have carried over, followed by the track from the first film “Preparing the Chariots." Both of these tracks are heavily accompanied by Caesar Flickerman’s presence, not to mention it has to do with the mandatory Capitol content that every citizen is forced to watch. They both have a sort of triumphant anthem feeling, the exact sort of tone Snow would want to impart (or rather force) upon the citizens when it comes to the celebratory Victory Tour.
4. Just Friends
Coming up next in scoring, Katniss and Peeta have an honest conversation about their relationship. I thought this might have been a new piece, but it turns out it is the exact same musical hook we hear in the cave scene in the first film. That track is extremely simple guitar, but since we get SO much more budget this time around, it is fully orchestrated. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Katniss and Peeta theme.
5. Mockingjay Graffitti
"Just Friends" takes us into an exciting but brief part of Catching Fire. The flash of Mockingjay graffiti comes with a significant tonal sound to grab the audiences attention. When we see the District 13 reveal, the score is accompanied by a military-esque drum pattern. This track takes us as far as Katniss and Peeta on the District 11 stage. "Well, I NEVER!! This isn’t very festive!!"
6. The Tour
I can’t with this track. Can you?!! I feel like bawling whenever I hear this beautiful piece of composition James Newton Howard has created. First of all, this music along with Rue’s death scene already tied this music with total and utter sadness. Howard has of course brought back this piece for “The Tour” track. It begins with Katniss speech on the District 11 stop:
I see her in the flowers that grow in the meadow by my house. I hear her in the Mockingjay’s song. I see her in my sister Prim. She was too young. Too gentle. And I couldn’t save her. I’m sorry.
For me this is the saddest part of the film. Rue’s death is definitely a catalyst in the trilogy, and constantly Katniss goes back to how she could not save Rue. Pair that moment with this piece of score, and I am inconsolable and on the floor.
To go in tow with this track from the first film, District 11 riots following Rue’s death. So here at the Victory Tour stop, the three finger salute starts a chain reaction for a HORRIBLE and intense event in front of the justice building. One of the benefits to having the same composer is that he can borrow his own music from the previous film to continue establish themes and emotions.
This track leads into a revamped version of music from their stay in the Capitol in the first film. At the very least it is used during Katniss’ training session with the gamemakers. During this music Haymitch is talking about their jobs on the tour, or rather for the rest of their lives. No doubt Howard thought to use this here for its association with the Capitol’s will it imposes on its victors. This brief section melds into brand new music for the Victory Tour montage.
As the montage music changes the montage leads into Katniss’ night terrors and the ever fan-loved “Always” moment. Thus begins more military-esque drumming as more speeches are made and “The Odds are Never in Our Favor.” The track phases out as audiences are shown the first scene with President Snow and his granddaughter.
7. Daffodil Waltz
Co-written by Sunna Wehrmeijer (our solo vocal lady), this waltz (interesting name they picked there) is what we hear when the prep crew offers Peeta and Katniss the vomit drink at President Snow’s party. Which, according to Admin Tiffany, said she spotted Flavius about to take a drink of it just as the camera cuts to Peeta and Katniss dancing. This has nothing to do with the score really, I just thought it was hilarious.
8. Waltz in A (op. 39, No. 15)
This Waltz was written by Brahms and am so on board with them using classical music for the music to which Katniss and Plutarch Heavensbee dance to. This piece was written back in 1865, and unfortunately that is the only notable info I could find out about this particular Waltz. In the version on the score album, the intense music that overlays the latter half of the track which begins when Plutarch says “ambition” brought him back to the games. The score here really supports Katniss’ statement: “The Games don’t mean anything. They only mean to scare us.” It’s true that Francis didn’t include the bit with the pocket watch so that new audience goers wouldn’t guess his involvement early on in the film. I feel like this was a good decision on his part, and through analyzing the score I feel this did nothing but support the idea of hiding that he is on Katniss’ side. Due to the overlay of intenseness over the waltz, it’s clear on the surface that they are on opposing sides.
10. Horn of Plenty
"OH MAH GAHHLL Courtney you made a mistake!! Horn of Plenty comes after Fireworks, not the Waltz GEEEEZ!!” is totally what you are saying/thinking right now. The reason I inserted #10 after the Waltz because this is where it goes chronologically in the film. Some people speculate that score albums do this for a better listening experience, but for this post I will be examining the tracks in the order they come in the film. This will not be the last time the order gets a little wonky, FYI.
Nothing too important except it’s an updated version of "Horn of Plenty" which they use for the presidential welcome at the party.
This track picks up when, you guessed it, the fireworks start. Right away we hear Snow’s theme as we get the COOLEST foreshadowing of the movie: Snow’s “blood” problem. Seriously guys, I gasped so loud when I first witnessed that moment. Ok moving on, as Katniss turns around Snow gives her an "almost imperceptible shake of his head." As the score changes with more sinister tones, Katniss witnesses the Peacekeeper feed of the uprisings. (Which, if you notice say District 8 above it.) Cut to Snow and Plutarch’s conversation about the need for Katniss’ elimination. Later on in the track we hear a higher tonality which transitions into Katniss returning to District 12 and immediately to Gale. This gets acknowledged by the Native American flute hook.
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Katniss’ theme plays during Gale and Katniss’ conversation in the woods about running away, etc. This scoring goes into...
Thread rolls into town. Whip and impact-sounds accompany this section, which I applaud for its percussion and literalness. First reprise of “Countdown”, which exists in the first film’s score but never actually used. I imagine it must have been pretty satisfying for James Newton Howard to finally use this piece he composed several times throughout Catching Fire. It’s used for very intense moments, such as here where peacekeepers set The Hob ablaze. The score gets very quiet and sort of unsettling using low violins and eventually some scattered higher tones which would probably be the use of a vibraphone or similar instrument. Once the high tones are heard, Haymitch intervenes in the whipping situation. Pulsing percussion starts when Thread starts yelling in the square. This segues into everyone bringing a very wounded Gale into Katniss' house for healing. We hear the echoing of plucked string instruments, which I believe to be the Dulcimer with underlying fiddle. For those who don't know, the Dulcimer is a fretted instrument originating from -- get ready for this -- APPALACHIA. How cool is that, people?!? The track ends with a significant violin hook, which is the moment Katniss and Prim look and acknowledge each other. Katniss realizes how much Prim has grown and how gifted she is becoming as a healer.
Track begins with melancholy harmonious violins. Katniss has her first real conversation with Prim in the film, and violins turn into a much fuller sound and evoke an uplifting feeling. Here is where Prim is talking about Katniss winning the games and bringing people hope. Suddenly it changes into Snow’s theme as Plutarch and Snow are talking about part of the District 12 whipping being on the airwaves before they could cut the feed.
13. A Quarter Quell
The “Prim” track does not segue into “A Quarter Quell” in the film. There is a brief “Horn of Plenty” that is heard as Snow takes the stage to announce the Quell. Now that you’ve all imagined that in your heads we can move onto the next track "A Quarter Quell." I really like this track because it is so beautiful, yet so so sad. They’ve taken from the part in the first film when Katniss and Peeta leave the Justice Building and into the train. This version is definitely orchestrated differently, and I think Howard chose to reprise this piece of score because there is a beauty and gloriousness to the orchestration, but simultaneous it evokes a very sad and mournful feeling. I feel like this was an appropriate choice for this scene as opposed to him scoring something new. Plus, you can link both of these score moments to reaping. In the first film they had just been reaped and being escorted to the train, while in this scene Katniss is as good as reaped because she is the only female victor from District 12. When Snow drops the bomb of the Quarter Quell tributes, the score has some great shrill echoey wind instruments to describe Katniss’ horror of having to go into another games. When she retreats to the forest, we hear the native american flute hook.
14. Katniss is Chosen
As the victors of District 12 are being escorted to their reaping, we hear Katniss’ theme. This is the first time we hear the full extent of the theme. Remember this line of notes, folks, because it’s gonna pop up a lot. When we hear the slow fiddle, it is the emotional moment when Katniss is reaped. The higher violin notes you hear just a few seconds after this moment is what Tiff and I like to call the “Two Towers” moment. This hook is just a few notes long, but they used it during the score in the first movie at the moment when Peeta is reaped. We call it “Two Towers” because it resembles a moment in the Lord of the Rings: Two Towers score. What can I say? We live our life by references, people. Anyway, these notes always seem to note an event in the story line and Howard chooses to use it frequently in the film. In this instance, it is when Haymitch is reaped and Peeta volunteers. Katniss’ theme comes in yet again when Prim and Mrs. Everdeen lead the District 12 wide three finger salute. This is followed by a fully orchestrated version of Katniss’ theme — minus the “Ooohs". Memorize that theme people!
15. Introducing the Tributes
The beginning of this track starts with Effie’s voiceover concerning the victors and the establishing shot of the City Circle and Katniss and Peeta ascending to their Training Center apartment. The following scene is Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch going over all the reapings for the Quarter Quell. This is a brand new piece for The Hunger Games and is one of my favorites because it debuts something Catching Fire specific — ticking. I believe there is some synthesizer going on in the background that is very evenly spaced that gives the illusion of the ticking clock. However what I find the most interesting is that the second that Finnick Odair comes onscreen is when you hear the actual sound of a ticking clock in the score. I loved that Howard snuck this into the score, because at first I only thought it existed when the victors figure out the arena is a clock, but actually it is first heard in this scene.
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There's just some filler for the scene where they are eating at the table discussing that they will need allies for the games. Here we hear the music from the first film during Katniss’ gamemaker session. It’s a track thats nicely understated and has associations with the Capitol, so I think it’s a great use to fill this scene.
The chariot scene uses (of course) "Horn of Plenty." By the way, did you know that when they are preparing for the chariot parade there is a voice that says ,"Mount up tributes, mount up." It sounds an awful lot like Francis Lawrence’s voice. Did anyone else get any Empire-Strikes-Back-Hoth-Mark-Hamill-The-First-Transport-Is-Away flashbacks, cause I sure did!!
16. There’s Always a Flaw
YES! A THOUSAND TIMES YES!!! James Newton Howard has created a Beetee/Wiress theme. It actually may end up becoming just Beetee’s theme if he continues it for Mockingjay, which I am PRAYING he does. When Beetee starts talking about “the flickering”, the theme begins with higher violin, done in a way that typically illustrates a cooky or mysterious character in scores. (Tiffany has mentioned it reminds her of the Sherlock Holmes score.) Next, the score goes into echoey DEPRESSING OH WHY GOD WHY piano for Mags. We feel so sad, but it’s also a sweet moment between her and Katniss.
17. Bow and Arrow
BONUS GAME TIME!! Well, that’s what this track sounds like which I think is TOTALLY awesome. It so much different than the rest of the score, it’s uplifting and actually sort of reminiscent of the Tron Legacy score. I mean really, what Katniss is doing here is sort of a video game so I think it fits perfectly.
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This next section has a lot of extra score that’s not on the CD, but personally I wouldn’t worry about it too much because each section of score here is pretty small.
The next piece of score is heard during the scene in which all the victors are waiting to go in for their gamemaker training sessions. Katniss wonders “Peeta, how are we gonna kill these people?” while you hear what I believe is the beginning of the "Penthouse/Training" track from the first film.
When Katniss gets called in, there is some new scoring but it fits the background well and there’s nothing particularly notable about it. Peeta and Katniss share a look, and as Katniss discovers the painting of Rue on the floor we hear Katniss’ theme. When Katniss assembles her Seneca Crane dummy, we hear part of a new track that is very intense sounding and interestingly enough there is a ticking sound involved. Once again, this piece is VERY short, so we see why it was not included on the soundtrack.
After Katniss successfully hangs her dummy, we hear the Caesar Flickerman music from the first film for the start of the tribute interviews. During these interviews the victors are desperately trying to get the games called off and we hear the same music during the tribute interviews from the first film. I like the fact that Howard keeps using the same music for identical events to create more continuity.
For the iconic Mockingjay dress moment, right before Katniss spins is when the music starts. The music used for this moment is the revamped “The Train” track from the first film. The last time we heard this was in “A Quarter Quell”, which is very mournful but beautiful. I will say it again, it is one of my favorite tracks for its duality of being so incredibly beautiful but at the same time associated with a tragedy. This time the beauty and inspiration comes from the moment that Katniss literally spreads her wings in the iconic Mockingjay dress, however the tragedy is (and Katniss knows this at this moment) that Cinna has just signed his death warrant. I’m glad that Howard has used familiar music for this iconic moment that describes the scene so incredibly well.
Before the score returns to the provided tracks on the album, the last bit of score for this section is another rendition of "Horn of Plenty." This occurs when the victors decide to hold hands, and I am unsure which version this is. It’s definitely not the version provided on the album, so my guess that its either the version used previously in the film (either for the beginning of the quell announcement or beginning of victory tour) or that it is a slightly revamped version of it specifically for this scene. Now, let’s get back into the tracks on the album!
18. We’re A Team
In this heartbreaking scene, Effie shows her humanity. This track is sort of reminiscent of District 12 since it uses the fiddle and goes into what we refer to as the “Two Towers" moment. If you recall, I mention that this hook is used for significant events. This is the scene where Haymitch and Effie say goodbye to Katniss and Peeta, so I’d call that significant. The District 12 feeling of the track transforms into brand new piano scoring. This is the part for the piano: "Katniss when you’re in the arena, remember who the real enemy is." New specific scoring for this specific moment that the audience is supposed to remember: Remember who the enemy is. *Thanks to AbelToy for pointing out that the "specific scoring" for this scene is indeed the piano from Coldplay's Atlas. AWESOME!!
19. Let’s Start
This track starts out with some foreboding music followed by the “Two Towers” hook which signifies Katniss and Cinna taking off in the hovercraft to the launch room. Next we get a reprise of “Countdown” as Snow talks to Plutarch about squashing the idea of the Mockingjay. After this conversation it is nothing but percussion as Plutarch enters the Gamemaker room to start the games.
22. The Games Begin
Again, with the out of order. The track starts off with hard percussion and bongs (much like the tolling of a clock, OOoOoOo GET IT) along with frantically rising violins. I adore this part because this follows the horrifying scene of Cinna being beaten up and hauled away why Katniss watches just before being elevated through the tube into the arena. Since there was a higher budget, we get one continuous shot of Katniss being lifted through the tube while she pulls herself together. Howard hit the nail on the head for the scoring for this continuous shot.
As Katniss surveys the arena and looks for Peeta, among the very quiet but scary scoring it seems that Howard has inserted some Marimba (right as we first see the countdown and Cornucopia) just before the cannon goes off. The use of the Marimba here is a really nice touch, as it’s very staccato and not something you would usually notice if you were watching the film. The Marimba really ties in with the arena and tropic theme, so I applaud Howard for inserting that in.
When the cannon goes off and Katniss runs down the spoke to the Cornucopia, we hear low brass (the tuba I’m guessing) with lots of violins typical for a movie score moment intense as this one.
20. Peeta’s Heart Stops
Katniss realizes what Finnick’s doing. Shrill noises and drums, definitely going with the jungle vibe for this intense moment. When he starts breathing, there's relaxed swelling violins with some minor tones at the end of the track upon Snow’s realization that he was wrong about Katniss’ feelings for Peeta.
When Katniss climbs to the top of a tree to get a look at the arena, the scoring for this is actually the beginning score music for the film. Native American hook comes in. This is a very interesting choice and I’m wondering if perhaps Howard wanted to associate Katniss climbing of trees with a familiarity. The score changes and we hear a very abrupt deep synth to illustrate the moment Katniss and the audience sees the entire arena for the first time. The score then regresses back into that first “Katniss” track with that deep synth sprinkled in here and there. The “Katniss” track elements are to associate heavily with her character alone yet the synth is a reminder to Katniss and the audience that they are in a dire situation.
23. The Fog
This intense track starts the moment Katniss touches the fog. I really like the use of violins in this track, it’s very classic action scene scoring. The characteristics of the violins are quite frantic, which is very representative of the scrambling involved in escaping the deadly fog. Of course action scorings are more than just scary sounds the instruments make to add to the horror of the arena. This track actually has some really cool musical themes amongst all the psychotic strings and horns. When Peeta falls for the last time that Katniss realizes she can’t carry him, theres a defeated low horn note. This transitions into the second half of the track in which things take a sad turn. Mags goes willingly into the fog, which begins a new arena theme. Well, I like to call it an arena theme because I like it so much despite the fact it doesn’t show up anywhere else in the score. This bit of scoring uses violins, horns, and choral voices. Its a great continuing theme of intensity, but the whole thing is a slower pace and the overall feeling is very very sad. I know I’m not the only one to say this scene is incredibly upsetting!
When Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick have tumbled to the bottom of the hill Katniss comes to covered in boils and her body spasming from the toxins that are taking its toll. As Katniss watches the fog come barreling towards them, there’s something very cool that happens in the score. Sunna Wehrmeijer is heard again here doing some more vocals but this time it is not the ones that are used for Katniss’ theme. This is a different line of notes, and its very haunting. The use of vocals here always makes me think that Katniss has accepted and waiting for death as the fog approaches. When the fog hits the wedge wall, the score switches to a much more relieved tone.
Reprise of the scoring from the first film's "Reaping Day" when Katniss and the others dunk themselves in the water to alleviate themselves from their sores. I like the familiar use of this scoring, and I’ve begun to wonder if Howard keeps putting it in relevant spots since The Reaping is such a basis for where the characters are now.
24. Monkey Mutts
Again with the action track that scares the hell out of us when it starts. Peeta comes face to face with a monkey mutt and a large percussion noise starts the track off. But before things get crazy intense, theres almost a minute of the tributes standing close together analyzing their escape as the mutts inch closer and closer to them. During this time we hear many things that intensify the mood before all hell breaks loose. Howard uses approaching drums and shrill noises of all different tonalities. Then comes in very quietly the calypso drums we heard in "The Games Begin." When the first mutt makes it’s move, we hear blaring trumpets to kick off the chaos.
About halfway through the track theres an interesting sounding reverb that I’ve always thought very similar to an arrow whoosh. That’s not what’s happening, but that’s how I would best describe what it sounds like. That is the moment when the morphling comes out of the tree and sacrifices herself for Peeta. Soon after this the intensity dies down and goes into Katniss and Peeta looking after the morphling as she dies. I personally think this is one of the saddest part of the book, and feel that the score did a really good job of coloring this scene. There’s a really good use of violins and choral voices to represent the emotion followed by a very hard to notice transition into the end of the track in which Katniss and Peeta talk about it looking like she sacrificed herself for Peeta.
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The next part of the score in the film is when Johanna, Wiress, and Beetee show up. When Johanna starts throwing a fit about getting them out for Katniss, we hear some of the track from the first film "Penthouse/Training." More specifically we hear the part of the score about a quarter into the track. It continues as Katniss cleans the blood rain from Wiress’ hair. Katniss figures out what Wiress has been saying this whole time, and thus starts the “Introducing the Tributes”, which is the track that has actual ticking in it. The first couple times I saw Catching Fire I thought this was the first time we had heard this track as the tributes walk to the Cornucopia and Katniss explains the arena clock. After watching it with the score in mind, I discovered that it actually occurred when Katniss and Peeta are learning about all the victor tributes, which we discussed in #15.
While at the Cornucopia, all is too quiet when Gloss kills Wiress and the careers ambush our heroes. The scoring for this is fittingly “The Games Begin” (same location where the score first appeared) as Plutarch spins the Cornucopia which results in more confusion, chaos, and rogue giant sickles.
This may just be the most interesting yet creepy track of the whole album. Just as everyone is sitting down to hear about Beetee’s plan, they are interrupted by the active Jabberjay wedge. During this track, it’s a collection of echoing sounds and shrill noises. It’s hard to tell what’s what. It sounds like a creative use of synth, percussion, and even possibly some high pitched wind instrument. I had the privilege of seeing Catching Fire in Atmos (which is basically IMAX for the ears), and this was the most impressive scene to hear. The track of the film combined with the score bounced from right to left frequently yet accurately, making you feel like you were right there with Katniss which was quite a creepy experience. Listening to this track by itself is interesting to hear because it’s mostly just noises. Later on, shrill violins make the situation more intense followed by a sort of techno-y series of notes in a pulsing fashion. Intense violins come in at the very end when Katniss and Finnick panic as they hit the wall.
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I am so glad that James Newton Howard has decided to work in themes so much for these films because we get to hear them come back given the situation. I feel like one of the coolest is the one in the beginning of "There’s Always a Flaw." It’s what we call “Beetee’s theme”, and it seems to be used whenever Beetee is explaining something. In this case, it comes back for the scene in which Beetee tells the group of his plan. Like we said earlier, we are hoping they continue this theme for Mockingjay!
27. I Need You
“I Need You” is next on the list chronologically speaking. BEHOLD, the fan favorite beach scene! We have new scoring for part of this scene, which is awesome sauce. Really pretty violin for the beginning of this scene as Katniss and Peeta are discussing leaving the group. Some flute transitions into a reprise of the cave scene score from the first movie. What’s great about this (and bigger budget) is that it is more orchestrated and extends even the original. James Newton Howard does a great job of taking the simple melody from first movie and really putting some meat on it.
I really like the end of this track because it’s some new scoring for when Snow and Plutarch are watching Katniss and Peeta in the arena and Snow being quite pleased with Plutarch. There’s some really cool violin underneath it all including piano which sort of illustrates that something is about to happen, which it does. Snow’s chilling in his little gamemaker lounge while Plutarch "Peace Out”s for good.
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This next moment, I, as I am sure thousands of others JUST CANNOT HANDLE. Katniss and Peeta separate, a decision that changes their lives forever. As readers of the books, our heart tears itself into tiny pieces knowing that the next time they see each other Peeta will NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN. When they say goodbye we hear the "ahhs" associated with the arena, the same ones used in “The Fog”. I has a sad.
28. Broken Wire
Of course here is when everything goes wrong. A repeat of shrill noises frequently heard in the intense arena scenes come back in this track. When Katniss escapes back to tree and trying to figure it all out, the score goes quiet. Investigating Beetee and the wire, there’s a very low but curious sounding flute along with extremely high string notes. The score gets more intense as President Snow cheers her on to shoot her ally. Finnick reminds her to “remember who the real enemy is” and the mood changes. When her thought is being interrupted by the churning lightning storm manifesting above we hear interesting high ethereal sounds. I would guess it’s made by a synth or something of that nature, but if I could compare it to anything it would be that noise that wine glasses make. As Katniss prepares her arrows for what Beetee intended on, the score uses that same bonging sound heard when Katniss goes up the arena tube. I absolutely love that they use this musical clock reference again here where everything comes together in the end.
26. Arena Crumbles
The eagles are coming! ….No? Return of the King? Anyone? Okay then…
As Katniss sees the first bit of real sunshine in a while, we hear Katniss’ theme (the vocal line) that has been heard throughout the entire album. This theme has been hammered into our brains, I think, for this final moment. Katniss' theme transitions into a glorified orchestrated version that we hear for the first time. This is completely fitting as it is the moment that Katniss is rescued from the arena, and such a big moment deserves such a huge score reveal.
29 - Good Morning Sweetheart
When Katniss discovers Haymitch, Finnick, and Plutarch together in the hovercraft is when the higher violins come in. As the music gets deeper in tone (and even more menacing), that’s when Plutarch explains "This is the Revolution and you are The Mockingjay." More of that tone continues as Katniss demands to know where Peeta is and Haymitch tells her the truth. Higher and more alarming sounding violins come in, but not for long as Katniss is put under once again. Now she’s in District 13 and vocal "aahs" are heard leading up to the moment she wakes up. Gale explains the horrors that happened to District 12 after the games. Katniss’ reaction in the score is something you may have missed and is something pretty nifty - it’s a reappearance of the score from the first movie when the train first entered the Capitol train station. Perhaps it is a reminder to the audience of all the tragedies and horrors The Capitol has bestowed upon Katniss unpunished, which are finally coming to an end.
I would rate this score miles better than the score from the first film, however due to higher budget, this allowed James Newton Howard to bring back established themes from the first score and IMPROVE them. This score would not be what it is without the first, however this album is obviously the more superior one.
Welcome To District 12 has repeatedly nagged about how cohesion is what we wish for The Hunger Games franchise, and we are so relieved and pleased to see how Francis Lawrence has abided by that rule. Upon examining the score, we have found that it has gone above and beyond in establishing themes and bringing them back for Catching Fire in true fashion of some of the greatest film composers such as John Williams. James Newton Howard and all those involved worked hard to make this the greatest score it could be creating layers to the themes, a creative use of the instruments, and using instruments appropriate for The Hunger Games culture: the ethnic flute and Dulcimer (originating from Appalachia).
Synth - Vocals (Sunna Wehrmeijer) - Choir (London Voices) - Cello - Fiddle - Dulcimer (origins from Appalachia- fretted string instrument) - Ethnic Flute (Native American hook) - Piano/Celeste - Guitar - Violins - Violas - Bass - Horns - Oboe - Clarinet - Flutes - Trombones - Trumpets - Tuba - Percussion - Harp
I would like the thank James Newton Howard for creating a truly masterful score. James has created something that is filled with scope, emotion, and power - a score that will surely be embraced by fans of the movie and fans of music in general. I would also like the thank Jim, Shawn, Peter, Mark, Sven, Sunna, and the rest of the team who worked so hard to make this album magnificent.