Here are the links to our original City of Ember reviews from it’s release on October 10th, 2008. In honour of the DVD release, a review of the soundtrack is below.
City of Ember Soundtrack Review
Written By E. Corrado
In honour of the release of the movie City of Ember on DVD, this is the review for the City of Ember soundtrack. The music was composed by Andrew Lockington. The soundtrack was released November 4th, 2008. The soundtrack for City of Ember is 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 8 seconds long. For the interview with Andrew Lockington, please see here.
Andrew Lockington creates a score for City of Ember that when listening to it, you are not just listening to the soundtrack from the movie, but, in a sense, to the movie itself. The movie has a strong recurring theme that while watching the movie, you don’t think of as recurring, until the end, when the then familiar theme greets you with such power, that it blows you away. This soundtrack has very quiet moments, that will then be interrupted by such a dynamic change that you actually jump. Having seen the movie, the music paints a picture for me as I remember what was occurring at that point in the film.
There are several different themes that are here, most notably the ‘Ember’ theme, and Lina Mayfleet’s theme. I will discuss them both in depth later on. The soundtrack as a whole is very lyrical, and it is because of these themes. This is very easily one of my favorite soundtracks of the year, and I am surprised that it doesn’t seem to be recognized anywhere. It has very memorable pieces of music, yet they don’t get stuck in your head in an annoying way. Instead, they are the kind of pieces that you can call up in your head quite easily, and start playing on the piano.
I find that I am drawn to soundtracks like this that are very lyrical, yet have points where they seem to do the unexpected. I love the percussion that is used to accentuate the score. It is used in such a way that it is an accent to the music, and not over bearing. The wind section of the orchestra here adds a certain mysterious, unknown feeling to the score, and the four Wagner Horns used in the ‘Ember theme’ give it a powerful feeling that exhilarates you when it is fully revealed at the end.
This movie would not be where it was without this wonderful score by composer Andrew Lockington.
Lina Mayfleet’s theme
Lina’s theme is one of my favorites. There are so many wonderful pieces on here, that if I could go through the soundtrack one by one, I would. But, due to time and space constraints, I have chosen to just profile these two, which are the main recurring themes.
Lina’s theme begins with quick running notes, followed by the soaring theme that is uplifting, and occurs throughout the movie. After that musical sentence the running notes continue, and the soaring theme breaks back through again. The running notes play back and forth with this theme, until towards the end of the piece on the soundtrack, it slows with the horns taking over, as though anticipating what is to come for her.
The ‘Ember theme’
I had heard this theme on the official movie website before seeing the movie, and it was so amazing, I would keep the games page on the website running while I was doing other stuff on the computer, just to be able to hear that theme. Of course, the soundtrack was not released yet.
In the Main Title track, this theme opens with a powerful drumbeat, followed by notes and chords beginning to emerge. This continues as a sort of tension builds. In the 3 minute 29 second piece on the soundtrack, we first hear the movie’s main motive notes emerge only at around 1 minute 24 seconds. The theme does not fully show itself until 2 minutes 18 seconds when the motive notes repeat, leading into the full theme at around 2 minutes 24 seconds in, when it emerges fully, and continues until about 30 seconds from the end when the beginning part takes over again. In this version of the theme, it is powerful, yet unsure of what’s to come. The various pauses and changes, especially around the 2 minute mark, are what make this piece so unpredictably powerful.
My favorite track on the whole CD, would have to be One Last Message. Lina’s theme leading into the ‘Ember’ theme is an amazing thing to listen to. In One Last Message, the theme is changed from the Main Title track. It is lighter at the beginning around 20 seconds in, and becomes fully entwined with Lina’s theme 30 seconds in. The theme plays through in full in such an amazing way. The same theme as at the beginning, but the atmosphere is so different. Rather then mysterious, and almost ominous, it soars, and lifts. It is this piece that really made me fall in love with this soundtrack. As it changes key, and goes through it’s rotations, it evolves into what it was trying to become at the beginning - free at last.