Score Profile and Review

Reviews - Charlotte's Web

Review by Bluntinstrument

Charlotte's Web is about a pig, saved from runt extermination by a little girl, who spends his year conversing with other farmyard animals and making friends with a female spider who promises that she will save him from becoming Christmas dinner. Fine for children, the film does suffer somewhat from too brisk pacing in its first half, sacrificing our sympathy with the child and even the pig, in order to cut to his meeting with Charlotte the spider. Just as the film harks back to Babe, Elfman's score does occasionally feel like a throwback to Black Beauty and Big Fish (e.g. 9. 'The word spreads'), but both are redeemed by the character and portrayal of the talent of Charlotte. The rat's theme is enjoyably mean and dirty (see 6. 'Templeton' clip), Elfman has fun scoring for solo woodwinds, Mickey Mousing the chap's ground-level and underground behaviour. Charlotte's theme, though, all triple metre and sweet-melancoly minor key, is the most memorable, instantly associated with the spider from those first partial glimpses, and broadening out into the magical cue when Charlotte first spins words in her web (7. 'The plan begins'). With added chorus, this is the Elfman magic bullet moment that defines his talent and the film's pivotal concept, shifting the emphasis firmly from the girl and her pig to the world of the kindly female spider. Whether planned or not, the sheer emotional depth of the theme at this point is so strong that the film never recovers balance, and other characters suffer in consequence, but Elfman fans have what they want: that glimpse into Edward Scissorhands territory, swooping choir, lilting melancholy theme, orchestral crescendo. Bliss. Although on film the score is at worst presentable and at best hugely enjoyable, on CD it lacks momentum and shape, and is way too long for the themes it supports. This reviewer is aware of his appreciation of scores-on-CD that present quality over quantity and Charlotte's Web is one that would have benefitted greatly from being creatively edited into a 15-20 minute suite. Even if it has to be succeeded by still more slushy pop songs from female artists who cannot control the gap between chest voice and falsetto.
Score rating: * * *
CD rating: * *

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