Before we dive into the H&G original soundtrack by Joe Silva, let’s take a look at the film H&G itself. Written and directed by Danishka Esterhaz, H&G is an updated version of the classic fairy tale Hansel and Gretel (published in 1812 and 1857 by brothers Jacob and Willhelm Grimm), but with a much more modern, some would say neorealistic twist.
For those who are not aware of the original story, Hansel and Gretel are child siblings who have been abandoned in the woods by poverty-stricken parents who feel that they
no longer can care for them (yes, abandonment in the scary woods is obviously the answer to this dilemma). Once alone in the woods, the two encounter an evil witch who entices them with a warm home, a comfy bed, delicious foods and tasty treats. She wishes to plump them up so she can ultimately eat them; in figuring this out, Hansel and Gretel must find a way to outwit the hungry old lady, or it will surely be their demise.
In H&G we find Harley (
Annika Elyse Irving) and Gemma ( Breazy Diduck-Wilson) in the same unfortunate circumstances as their counterparts: failed by their parents and forced to survive in the woods alone. For as terrible of a situation they have found themselves in, they luckily have a beautifully composed soundtrack to guide them along their adventure. The 16-track album is comprised of all original scores by Joe Silva; using charming electronics and whimsical instrumentals, Silva helps usher you through the film and the children’s adventure; themes of childhood innocence, vulnerability, tragedy, and eventually triumph over evil can be felt and understood while you experience the film and the soundtrack alike.
The album opens with “Another Day“; it is slow to start, has more of an anxious feel to it, as if you know something potentially bad is supposed to happen at the end of it. The title “Another Day” implies that it is anything but another day, that this day will be entirely different from all others. We eventually find ourselves “Abandoned“; this is where that feeling of anxiety reaches its high point, as we realize the children are indeed being left behind. It is much more ominous and latent with darker undertones, depicting that same feeling of hopelessness and despair that the children are feeling. You can practically picture the grim surroundings as their parents leave them behind in unknown territory.
As “Exploring” begins, we have just the piano playing a very simple tune, sometimes accompanied by sounds you’d hear as you explore a forest and all that dwells inside of it. It brings on an odd sense of ease and wonderment; the same that the children probably feel as they explore their new home. As the story and album continues, “Bedroom Snooping” can seriously barely be heard — and that’s totally genius. Only towards the middle to end of the song can you hear a few tones alluding to one sneaking around in attempts of remaining unseen. I mean, you are snooping around a bedroom, you can’t have any kind of loud, banging noises now can you? These songs paint a picture of these young innocent children, peeking into nooks and crannies, with no real regard as to what circumstances may lay before them.
We eventually find ourselves back at a more lighthearted tune with “Tractor Ride” that is actually rather short lived but still provides a brief glimpse of vivaciousness. It almost immediately leads into the much more glum “I Wanna See“. This is a return to that sense of anxiousness, that something or someone is lurking waiting to pounce. This is the turning point in which you can really feel the tension start to mount again.
“What’s Gonna Happen” is exactly what should be playing when danger is imminent; it is nothing but dark and ominous tones (Forgetting Sarah Marshall reference, anyone?) and paints the picture that something awful is going to happen, that a fight for survival is right around the corner. However, as we close the album with “Escape“, it really creates a sense that the worst is over, the smoke is clearing, and that the Harley and Gemma are going to be okay. This track is not overdone with joy though, it is just right in that it gives you a sense that they have made it through a nasty obstacle, but that there is the likely possibility they will encounter more on their journey.
When you listen to the album all the way through, it flows perfectly from one song to another, creating the story in your mind without having to actually watch the film. If broken down like this you still can visualize what theme exists, but it is much better when experienced as one large harmonious piece. Of course, we have yet to actually see the full film, and can only guess what will happen in the end with young Harley and Gemma. As you go through the album, you get a very detailed sense of what is going on in the film as the tracks progress, but that being said, one still cannot be sure. I guess we will just have to watch the movie in order to find out now won’t we? Esterhazy’s fairy tale inspired H&G is set to have its world premier at the Vancouver International Film Festival on September 28, 2013.