The Witches – Alan Silvestri

At the time of writing this review, movie releases are very weird because of COVID-19. In some countries, people can watch the movie The Witches in movie theaters, while in other countries, it is only available on the streaming service HBO Max. The movie itself is also not what you would call traditional, since it is a remake of a movie from 1990, which is again based on a book by Roald Dahl. One thing that is quite normal though, is that Alan Silvestri, who is known for delivering amazing scores, has written the music. 

The Witches is a movie that blends a couple of different movie genres. You can see it as a fantasy movie, since it involves witches and talking animals, but there are also horror vibes, with the witches themselves are quite scary looking and their actions are also pretty dark. I can imagine writing music for such a movie must be a challenge, but Silvestri solved it by doing what he does best: writing a traditional orchestral score.

The foundation of the music for The Witches lies in two themes, and the first theme, which can be considered the main theme as well, is meant for the heroes of this story. Its melody can be heard for the first time after a mysterious buildup in “Witches Are Real,”, played by the brass in a way that is very recognizable as Silvestri’s style. In “My First Witch,” you can hear the main theme again, but in a totally different way. This time the melody is more emotional and played by a single clarinet instead of a full orchestra and it forms such a contrast with the brass version, that I almost did not recognize it as being the same melody. Being able to use the same melody in so many different ways to help tell a story, is one of the major strengths of film music. 

The second theme for this movie is for the evil witches. While you can hear a hint of the theme in “What You Saw,” and at the end of “Enter the Witches,” you can hear the full version of its melody for the first time at the end of “Grand High Witch”, where it starts with a pattern of bell sounds before the theme melody makes an appearance. This waltz-like theme reminds me of a ballroom dance every time I hear it. 

The two themes have been integrated throughout the whole score. “Pig Tails” is a good example of both themes being used in action music. The music you hear in the action sequences generally has a strong focus on brass, which I really like about Silvestri’s music. In addition, this action music also reminds me of a lot of the music he has composed for Back to the Future, with A Narrow Escape” and “The Mission” as excellent examples.

The music for the end credits is most often a sequence of soundtrack cues stitched together or they consist of a song or two. But for this movie Silvestri has put together a superb suite, merging his themes into one last track, “End Credits (The Witches),” showcasing the fantastic music he has written for the film.

If you are a fan of Silvestri’s musical style, this soundtrack certainly delivers. In addition to the well-written themes, all the music supporting the scenes is very melodic and can be enjoyed on its own. Silvestri has a musical style, which I can easily recognize and you could almost say that many of his scores sound the same. While they do in a certain way,  the integration into the music of the unique themes for each movie makes each score unique and worth a listen, and the music for The Witches fits that category very well.

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The highlights are in bold.

  1. Witches Are Real (2:25)
  2. My First Witch (3:45)
  3. What You Saw (3:07)
  4. Chickenafied (2:45)
  5. Enter the Witches (3:57)
  6. Grand High Witch (3:21)
  7. Witches (3:31)
  8. Instant Mouse (4:07)
  9. A Narrow Escape (4:40)
  10. Fourth Floor (3:13)
  11. It Can Be Very Dangerous (3:11)
  12. The Potion (3:57)
  13. Let’s Make A Potion (3:58)
  14. The Mission (2:33)
  15. Soup Is On (2:45)
  16. Pigtails (3:29)
  17. A Stolen Key (3:27)
  18. Let Me Out (2:34)
  19. I Didn’t Hear A Thing (3:08)
  20. Pea Soup (2:23)
  21. End Credits (The Witches) (5:54)

Total length: 1 hour and 12 minutes
Watertower Music (2020)

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