The second German animated film - the first being Back To Gaya - to get some international attention this year is Lauras Stern (Laura?s Star) from directors Piet de Rycker and Thilo Rothkirch‚ who previously made Der Kleine Eisbär (The Little Polar Bear). The story is that of the seven year old Laura who finds it hard to make any new friends after moving to the big city. Then one day she finds a star that has fallen from the sky. She takes it home‚ heals its wounds and‚ yes‚ makes friends with it. The star fills Laura?s life with magic as it makes her teddy bears come to live and allows Laura to fly. But all good things must come to an end and so‚ alas‚ Star has to go back home.
Lauras Stern is an adaptation of the popular children's book by Klaus Baumgart which has sold millions of copies in more than thirty countries. Recording the voice of Laura is thirteen year old Céline Vogt‚ while five year old Sando Iannotta provides the voice of little brother Tommy. The supporting cast includes Maximilian Artajo‚ Heinrich Schafmeister‚ Mirco Nontschew‚ Hildegard Krekel‚ Eva Mattes and Peter Fitz.
The original score is mostly written by Nick Glennie-Smith‚ though Hans Zimmer receives the main credit‚ and additional music was composed by Henning Lohner. After the disappointments that were King Arthur and Thunderbirds‚ it almost seemed the year would slip by without any noteworthy score from Zimmer‚ but luckily Lauras Stern turns out to be a very charming score saving Zimmer's grace - and Glennie-Smith's too for that matter - in the nicest of ways. Performed by the Deutschen Filmorchester Babelsberg (German Filmorchestra of Babelsberg)‚ the score is heavy on the string and woodwinds‚ creating a light-hearted and magical atmosphere not unlike some of James Horner's lighter scores‚ notably Land Before Time (though never quite reaching the same level of compositional complexity)‚ or Steve Jablonsky?s recent score for the Japanese animated film Steamboy. Superficial comparisons could also be drawn to Harry Gregson-Williams? Tigger Movie score‚ Thomas Newman?s nostalgic woodwind themes‚ and Mark Isham?s tendency to have see-sawing motions in his woodwind writing.
The album appropriately kicks off with the “Opening Titles”‚ which present a soft rendition of the main theme for oboe‚ flute and strings. “The Chase” repeats the main theme‚ but takes it through some faster variations. “Lonely Laura” not only features a lovely flute version of the prime theme but also has the first of several beautiful cello solos by Jan Vogler. Avoiding overkill by taking it through yet some more playful variations‚ “Laura and Muschkel” once again centres around the main melody.
Though it is hard to pinpoint the best tracks on an album that is from to start to finish as heart warming as this one‚ “A Star Is Born Part 2” is the first of the absolute album highlights. Strings‚ children's choir and woodwinds‚ particularly the flute‚ create a wonderfully magical atmosphere in a way that is usually associated with James Horner - parts of the cue may indeed be reminiscent of Land Before Time or Willow. “Star Finds Sun and Moon” parts 1 and 2 are both two beautifully poignant cues‚ while “Flying Bow” may arguably be the finest track on the album with its wonderfully rich orchestral and choral arrangement. “Flying In The Rain” is the only cue where the brass section‚ albeit being quite small and lacking in bass‚ gets its chance to roar‚ accompanied by a whirlwind of string motifs. The “Finale” lives up to its promise and combines all the themes in a perfectly structured and orchestrated cue nicely summing up the score in nearly seven minutes. The album closes with “Lullaby”‚ the only cue solely credited to Hans Zimmer‚ which once again is as heart-warming a piece as he?s ever written‚ its mood reminiscent of the romantic Nine Months and the cello solo ever so slightly similar to that in Backdraft.
Contributing two songs to the soundtrack are Wonderwall‚ two 22-year old pretty looking German girls otherwise known as Kati and Ela‚ whose music is usually based on their diary entries as they write down what happened to them or what they're thinking or feeling. This time‚ however‚ they combine their talents with Hans Zimmer to produce the songs “Stay” and “Touch The Sky”. Both tracks are as easy on the ears as the girls are on the eyes and‚ all sarcasm aside‚ really are up there with the best movie songs of this year.
All in all there is nothing truly original about Lauras Stern‚ nor is it a truly great score‚ but the score is rich with good intentions‚ lovely melodies and pleasant orchestrations. It?s so charming from start to finish‚ including the two songs‚ that one cannot help but smile at it all and play it again and again. It is a feel good score that beautifully succeeds in its intentions and that‚ while the sun is still out and temperatures are still moderate‚ put me in the Christmas mood in October!
And the surprise comes from Germany !!!
A beautiful score with perky accents‚ sometimes really enchanting -- thanks to very simple themes idealized by varied‚ developped and sensitive arrangements. We have to go back to Radio Flyer or Nine Months to find such a musical treatment of Childhood theme by Hans Zimmer. (but in this soundtrack‚ it's more orchestral without any synth).
With the great return of Nick "Rock where we were soldiers in the Puy Du Fou" Glennie-Smith (after King Arthur and his Chorus) and the growing influence of Henning Lohner (The Ring...)‚ this score‚ in complete contrast to the very latest zimmer's works‚ is the best gift that could happen to us after the big disappointment of the rock-bottom Sharktale' score.
Finally‚ let's point out that‚ if the team is roughly the same‚ this CD is a 100% non-MV production...
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