Soundtrack Review: HANNA

Allison Loring

by: Allison Loring
April 10th, 2011

Rating: 4/5

Much has been buzzed about the film HANNA and at the top of that list has been the score for the film as created by the Chemical Brothers. This is not the first time a well-known recording artist (see Daft Punk and TRON: LEGACY) has taken to the screen, but the Chemical Brothers’ score becomes such a part of HANNA'S world that noting which artist in particular scored the film almost becomes an afterthought.

Kicking things off, “Hanna’s Theme” is haunting and almost unnerving, two adjectives which could apply to Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) herself. Pretty and almost ethereal, it seems the perfect fit for a fair skinned young girl. But with slight hints at the elecotronica to come poking through the choral sounding vocals, we are introduced at the onset to the fact that Hanna is anything but an ordinary girl.

The film is completely without music until Hanna’s isolated world in the forest suddenly collides with that of the outside world. Hanna’s quiet and almost serene surroundings get a jarring shift as military personal burst into her home and the music does more than simply keep pace with the action on screen, it literally ignites it. Instead of the booming bass tones and driving percussion that normally drive action scenes, the Chemical Brothers show us what they do best with stylized and frenetic beats that work just as well (if arguably not better) than what our ears have been trained to expect. The score moves and adapts with what is happening on screen, making both the film and the score a singular element rather than two separate pieces coming together.

It is no stretch to pair an electronic score with action, but the music is more than just driving, pulsating and loud – it is also interesting, off-putting and purely original. Each hit or punch seen on screen seems choreographed and delivered in synch with the beats in the score making the action on screen all the more captivating and elevating the music to an even more engaging degree. This dual feeling of wanting to get up and fight while also wanting to get up and dance made the action in HANNA not only stand out, but gave it a new energy. As Hanna fights her way to Berlin, the Chemical Brother’s European influenced dance club and techno styling to the score worked to also make it feel as though you truly were fighting your way through various European locations.

Much of the score plays off of sound effects seen on screen – a noise that will suddenly bleed into the score itself as it takes flight as it fleshes out the rest of the scene. Although the Chemical Brothers are well-known in their own right, their work here is tailor made for HANNA and creates various layers where you barely notice the music at times to moments when you can barely notice anything but the music. It is hard to predict what will be seen or heard next, even when certain refrains and themes are called back on, helping the score to constantly feel fresh, never stale.

One of the film’s most memorable refrains is first heard in “The Devil Is In The Details” and is whistled or sung throughout the film by hired assassin Issacs (Tom Hollander), always indicating when trouble is afoot. This catchy tune sounds innocent, a song that would almost play in a child’s music box, but it is the juxtaposition of this idea paired with the violence and furry on screen that makes this song so jarring and reminds the audience to question anything seemingly innocent.

On its own, the score is a bit scattered with ten and fifteen second tones ("Map Sounds/Chalice 2" and "Sun Collapse") bouncing between the longer tracks. However within the film and on screen, the score bursts through, electrifying the action and increasing the tension. The score never overpowers a scene, even when it gets loud, instead always working to enhance it. Although this is not the first time we have seen and heard the use of electronic score (and certainly will not be the last), the Chemical Brothers have succeeded in creating a score to help further push the limits of what using this style of music in film can deliver and made the raw story of HANNA an even more terrifying and immersive experience.

This soundtrack is available through Back Lot Music.

1. "Hanna's Theme"
2. "Escape 700"
3. "Chalice 1"
4. "The Devil is in the Details"
5. "Map Sounds / Chalice 2"
6. "The Forest"
7. "Quayside Synthesis"
8. "The Sandman"
9. "Marissa Flashback"
10. "Bahnhof Rumble"
11. "The Devil is in the Beats"
12. "Car Chase (Arp Worship)"
13. "Interrogation / Lonesome Subway / Grimm's House"
14. "Hanna vs Marissa"
15. "Sun Collapse"
16. "Special Ops"
17. "Escape Wavefold"
18. "Isolated Howl"
19. "Container Park"
20. "Hanna's Theme (Vocal Version)"

All songs composed by The Chemical Brothers.

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